Perspectives in Education: Scott Schneider
Posted by NUVO Editors on Thu, Jan 17, 2013
Confronting the Common Core Standards
By Indiana State Sen. Scott Schneider
The Common Core Standards (CCS) were developed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO) and written by a Washington, DC non-profit called Achieve. The new standards dictate what will be taught in English and math for grades K-12.
Indiana educators had little to no input in the writing of these standards as evidenced by the list of contributors released by the developers.
Many Hoosiers, including myself, are concerned that adopting the CCS was a significant step backward from the nationally recognized education standards Indiana previously had in English and math. I am worried that CCS was pushed on Indiana without proper review of what it will mean for students and teachers, which is the impetus for Senate Bill 0193, which would prevent the Indiana State Board of Education from using any educational standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Proponents of the Common Core Standards which are being implemented in 2012-2014 for English and math promised to use international benchmarks. Indiana’s former standards used this standard, but Common Core has not met this qualification.
Experts testified that CCS documents point to no country or region as the comparison country. In fact, members of the standards validation committee repeatedly asked for evidence of international benchmarking and received nothing. Therefore, five members of this committee refused to sign off on the CCS.
More than 500 people attended a Jan. 16 Senate Education Committee hearing on my bill. The committee will vote to send it to the full Senate as early as next Wednesday, Jan. 23.
While the education system in Indiana may not be perfect, solutions should come from the teachers and parents involved in the daily activities of educating our children.
But under new CCS rules, Indiana cannot change or delete any of the standards because they are copyrighted by the developers the National Governors Association and the Chief Council of State School Officers.
Historically, Indiana held sole control over our student test (I-STEP). Now, a consortium of 22 states, of which Indiana is a member, is developing a new measuring stick for students and teachers called thePartnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
While the new CCS agreements allows states to add some material to the standards, this information would not be covered on the new PARCC test, which determines adherence to the CCS. In the world of high-stakes testing, I find it unlikely that anything that is not tested would be taught.
Little is known about what this test will look like and how it will be scored, yet its influence is evident as teachers and school districts are under tremendous pressure to meet performance standards.
The current state of education has many people feeling left out of the decision-making process. With the adoption of the CCS, distance grows between teachers, parents and local education policy makers. The topdown, centralized approach of the CCS does not allow for the voices of teachers and parents to influence decisions; this dynamic also fuels frustrations among parents and teachers about the influence of highstakes testing.
Because of the Common Core Initiative, there are now 22 states deciding how we test Indiana students, what cut scores will be, how we define students with disabilities, etc. The loss of power is enormous. Indiana elects her Superintendent of Education for a reason, so that decisions are made by someone we choose. We should never cede this control to any outside organizations.
When academic standards and high-stakes testing are no longer in the hands of the people of Indiana, we lose control over the important policies to which students and teachers are held accountable.
Improvements in our schools will only come through the local efforts of Hoosiers in the field; any measure that removes them from the decision-making process is wrong.
State Senator Scott Schneider is a Republican from Indianapolis. First elected to the State Senate in 2009, Schneider is a former member of the Indianapolis-Marion County City County Council. He is a board member for the Indiana Schools for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the recipient of School Choice Indiana’s 2012 Charter School Warrior of the Year Award.
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Many thanks to Senator Schneider and to Hoosiers Against Common Core.