Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New Public School 'Core Standards': Which States Might Not Sign On?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New Public School 'Core Standards': Which States Might Not Sign On?

Article excerpt

The core standards unveiled Wednesday would establish a national bar for what students in any state should know when they graduate from high school. But some states are wary.

A yearlong effort to craft common standards in math and reading for schools nationwide ended when education officials unveiled the new standards Wednesday.

Now the question becomes: Which states will adopt them?

The K-12 standards have many supporters, who laud them as rigorous and coherent. But not everyone agrees that national standards are needed. In addition, the challenges to implementing them are significant - potentially impacting textbook selection, teacher preparation, and a revision of standardized tests to align them with the new standards.

Already, Kentucky, Hawaii, Maryland, and West Virginia have tentatively signed on, and other states face pressure from the federal government to agree to adopt them by early August if they want a chance at winning Race to the Top money. All states except Texas and Alaska participated in creating them.

"If a significant number of states adopt by August, and another significant number by the end of the year, that will help create some momentum for more states to do it. States will be watching some of the bellwether states to see what they do," says Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, which was a partner in developing the standards.

States to watch

In particular, he says, states will be watching Massachusetts - considered by most to have the most rigorous current standards - as well as states like California and Indiana.

The standards incorporate college and career readiness standards developed last year, and they try to present a vision for the skills and content a student should master at each grade level. They were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association.

The English and Language Arts (ELA) standards eschew required reading, for the most part, with the exception of a few foundational documents like the Declaration of Independence and a Shakespeare play. An appendix gives detailed suggestions of the sort of texts that are appropriate at each grade level: Antoine de Saint- Exupery's "The Little Prince" in grade 4-5, for instance, and and Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie" in grades 9-10. …

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