GUEST COMMENTARY: Will Indiana use Common Core or a hybrid?

2014-01-05T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Will Indiana use Common Core or a hybrid?By the Northwest Indiana Public School Study Council nwitimes.com

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced the timeline for adopting standards for English/language arts and mathematics at the Indiana State Board of Education's Dec. 20 meeting.

A series of meetings involving the academic standards committees and advisory teams for both subject areas will commence this month, followed by the State Board of Education conducting three public hearings in late February or early March.

In late March, the final draft of the standards for both mathematics and English/language arts will be presented to the Education Roundtable, and in April, the Roundtable will make a recommendation of standards to the State Board of Education. Final approval is scheduled for May.

The Common Core State Standards were already adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education in 2010 and by 45 states and the District of Columbia more than three years ago.

The standards were not developed by Congress. This initiative came from the National Governors Association in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers, both of which sought rigorous content in mathematics and English throughout the United States.

These standards articulate what students must master to be prepared for college or a career. During this process, Hoosiers provided hundreds of constructive comments to the original draft, which was released in March 2010.

At the K-12 level, the Indiana Department of Education staff — until this year's pause required by state law — and district personnel had begun the transition to the new standards. In fact, students in grades k-2 are already being taught using these standards in the classroom; full implementation was planned for 2014-2015 for the past three years.

The National PTA, Achieve, Education Magazine, Parents Magazine have published materials and tools to help parents understand the shifts and changes to the CCSS. For several years, education service centers, district superintendents, curriculum directors, principals and classroom teachers have been making the transition toward the Common Core implementation as well as developing new assessments based on the higher-order content of these standards.

School corporations have already spent time and resources comparing the CCSS to the Indiana standards being used above grade 3 and deciding locally when they will be taught during the instructional sequence and how they will be assessed locally for mastery.

The governor withdrew Indiana from one of the two national assessment organizations given the task to develop the Common Core assessments, supported by federal dollars, so Indiana must develop its own exam, which will cost the state millions of dollars during the next two years.

The Common Core State Standards include rigorous, benchmark content and require the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills, so that students have the best chance to be ready for college and a career when they leave high school.

Hoosiers need to watch carefully what happens during the Common Core State Standards hearings in February and March. The decisions made by the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education will influence what is taught to your children and grandchildren for many years and how they will perform on the ACT and SAT exams, which will play an important role in determining their future.

The question is whether Indiana will participate with the rest of the country or go its own way and spend millions of needless dollars on developing different standards and assessments. The future is now!

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