(AP) — Experts and officials are giving mixed reviews to proposed
education standards that could replace the rejected national Common Core
guidelines in Indiana classrooms, just days before a panel of education
leaders is set to vote on them.
Debate on the
new standards comes as the state races to create before July new,
state-written benchmarks for what students should learn in each grade.
Gov. Mike Pence in March signed off on legislation to nix the national
guidelines in the Common Core.
among the first of 45 states to adopt those math and English standards
in 2010 in an effort to create consistency across state borders and
raise the bar for students, but many conservatives have since criticized
the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools.
leave the Common Core, the State Board of Education must find a
replacement. Proposed standards months in the making are up for an
Education Roundtable vote Monday — the last step needed before they're
up for final board approval.
But experts and
board members still are divided on the merit of the latest proposed
benchmarks, which were released to officials Monday evening and to the
public Tuesday morning.
Some tout their
clarity and focus on depth of knowledge, while others say they're still
too similar to the Common Core or "nonsensical."
David Freitas called them "uncommonly rigorous," but also praised their
departure from the national standards criticized by many tea party
members and other advocates of local control.
unnecessary intrusion in our schools by the federal government," Freitas
said in a statement. "And they rightly cede authority to local school
leaders and communities to determine their own curriculum."
But one Common
Core opponent said the standards still closely resemble those
"I really don't
think the people doing this understand what's wrong with the Common Core
or know how to fix it," said Terrence Moore, an assistant professor of
history at Hillsdale College.
drafters for the most part ignored his review of the last draft, which
in part questioned the lack of classic literature recommendations.
Cari Whicker, a sixth grade teacher in Huntington, only has reviewed the
English standards for sixth grade so far but said she's pleased with
what she's seen.
Teachers at her
school are using a blend of former Indiana standards and Common Core
already because of the now-paused transition to the national benchmarks.
She said expectations in the proposal are similar to what's already
happening in her classroom.
"There is a
movement toward understanding that we need to see growth from everyone,
and not just the kids who pass the tests," she said. "What I see is more
of a true goal of scaffolding kids who are low and at the same time
pushing kids who are already at grade level to pass that."
Brad Oliver and other experts also praised that scaffolding, which they
say is shown in a side-by-side breakdown of how learning standards
advance from grade to grade in math and English. Oliver said the
standards also promote deeper understanding in a classroom from the
start to finish of a school year.
University emeritus professor of mathematics James Milgram said the math
guidelines for children in the lower grades are solid, but they "fall
apart completely" in high school — a sentiment other experts shared.
very, very disappointed," said Milgram, who reviewed the earlier draft
as well. "There were more errors in this version than in the previous."