Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

GUEST COLUMN: Colorado's version of Common Core is unique, nothing sinister

by name Newspaper - Published: March 2, 2014

Colorado established statewide academic standards in 1993. When the National Association of Governors and others began the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 2008, Colorado was already engaged in developing additional standards called for in SB08-212. After the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (August 2010), work began to integrate those standards into Colorado's existing framework. The Colorado Academic Standards, (CAS), were re-released in December, 2010. That many of these standards are unique to Colorado and establish impressive benchmarks is worth noting. Thus, Common Core Standards aren't really the issue.

Skills-oriented standards do not establish curriculum. Curriculum is left to local school boards. At issue are the professional training and testing needs to measure mastery, when Colorado schools are now struggling to implement unfunded reform mandates, meet the increasing needs of impoverished students, keep facilities safe, while keeping up with the rising costs of everything from fuel to computers.

Educational reformers have forgotten that mandatory testing detracts from teaching time. Successful implementation of new standards and continuing reforms will only occur when students have more quality time with quality teachers. More days in the school year would solve that puzzle. Or more learning time during school days? But both these solutions, clear as they are, would cost, too. Reduced numbers of standardized tests - relying more on formative assessments that allow for immediate modification of instruction - would truly help students. Finally, teachers need time to plan and modify instruction to meet the individual student's needs.

Where is this working? Check out what's happening in Centennial R-1 and Thompson School Districts. They're integrating the CAS in ways that should be done in every school district. What's different there is those districts have sufficient grant money to support these life-changing reforms. Most districts don't have that funding.

There's nothing sinister about having clear expectations for student learning - standard criterion by which to have graduates prepared for postsecondary education or simply entrance into the workforce. Attention should be directed away from the standards themselves and toward the challenges that stand in the way of making it all happen.

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Jan Tanner is director of District 11 Board of Education.

Carver's response:

The opposing view ignores serious impacts of Colorado's Common Core implementation. Common Core significantly degrades educational excellence in Colorado.

Opposition by a growing number of Colorado school boards against Common Core implementation underscores that fact. Recently Lewis Palmer School District 38's Board of Education resolved: (We do not) support changing proven, successful curriculum or educational standards to align with CCSS [Common Core] .?" Regarding Common Core, The Classical Academy just passed the following: "Ultimately, content standards at a national level will drive conformity, instead of innovation, and mediocrity instead of excellence."

Put your trust in Colorado educators, where it belongs.

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