In some states, educators want to go above and beyond Common Core in setting state standards.
In Colorado, Douglas County educators are among those who don’t want the state to implement the national Common Core standards, but their objections have less to do with money and local control than with high standards.
As in, the Common Core State Standards aren’t high enough.
“We feel like there’s a problem with it being the beginning of the conversation and not to the rigor that we want our students to aspire to,” said district superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen.
For example, in language arts the top level for those standards might be for a student to demonstrate they can compare and contrast.
“We don’t think of compare and contrast as the top, but a step on the level of the journey of creating or evaluating,” Fagen said.
Recently the district got together curriculum coordinators and teachers to rate the level of thinking for certain Common Core standards. They found most of the standards to be in the bottom level of higher-level thinking skills. The district wants to integrate the learning more so students can demonstrate they can construct meaning and show process of inquiry thinking. Fagen said the Common Core standards also lack 21st-century learning, such as teaching students to innovate, think globally and think critically.
Colorado’s adoption of Common Core, a grade-by-grade framework of outcomes designed to improve students’ college and career readiness, heralds a new era of national standards embraced by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
The standards will be implemented in the fall, with a new batch of standardized tests to follow.
The Douglas County School District Board of Education passed a resolution last year that said Common Core is not rigorous enough and recently passed a resolution decrying all the testing schools are mandated to do. The district is asking to be exempted from the test related to Common Core so it can provide tests more reflective of the district’s higher standards.
Board president Kevin Larsen said the problem is there’s no way for parents to opt out of this test, and schools are penalized for the students they lose.
“It puts everyone in an adversarial position,” Larsen said.
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