Thursday, May 16, 2013

KASB Statement on Common Core to State Board Tuesday May 14

Statement before the Kansas State Board of Education on Common Core Standards

by Tom Krebs, Advocacy Specialist, Kansas Association of School Boards

May 14, 2013

Madam Chair, Members of the Board:

            With growing concerns expressed both in Kansas and nationally about the common core academic standards, we want to share the perspective of local school boards.  KASB’s goal of making Kansas “First in Education,” relates to the common core in two ways.
            First, our member school boards and district leaders want to increase students who leave high school fully prepared for college or other postsecondary training, and with workplace skills.
            Second, our members believe that the No Child Left Behind process has far outlived its usefulness and has become a hindrance to higher achievement.
            Therefore, although KASB did not take a position on adopting the common core standards several years ago, we strongly support provisions of the NCLB waiver granted to Kansas last summer.  The common core, as modified by the State Board, satisfies the wavier requirement for a set of college and career-ready standards as well as state law regarding state curriculum standards.
            As school districts have begun implementing the common core, we have heard no objections from any of our members about quality and academic rigor of these standards; or about intrusion into local control.  We believe the standards will help promote a transition from “basic” proficiency to attainment of higher skills and knowledge required for the workplace and postsecondary education.
            Dropping the common core would require starting over on the waiver, putting Kansas schools back under the old requirements of No Child Left Behind.  It would require additional money and time to develop new college and career-ready standards.  Because new assessments cannot be implemented until new standards are approved; it would delay moving toward more rigorous student assessments.  Many districts have already spent considerable time and money for professional development of teachers and other staff on the common core standards.  Any new set of standards will have implementation costs.  We have no evidence that the common core standards will be more expensive than any other standards adopted pursuant to state law.
            Standards are simply expectations of what students should know and demonstrate.  Common standards will allow Kansans to more clearly evaluate how our students compare to competing states and counties.  Currently, we use the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), which is given to just a sample of each state’s students, or the ACT or SAT, which are not used consistently in all 50 states.  None of these tests currently provide a clear set of standards to guide teaching.
            However, nothing in federal law, the waiver, or state law requires local districts to adopt any particular standards or curriculum; or directs what they may or may not teach.  State standards may guide local teaching, but they are primarily important because state assessments are based on them.  If there is an actual future attempt to require or prohibit specific curricula at the local level, KASB would oppose it.
            This does not mean concerns about the common core should be ignored.  We believe the State Board, legislative committees and local school boards can and should carefully monitor the implementation of common core standards and the other changes in the school accountability system, and make corrections if problems arise.
            In June, KASB will conduct a 24 city tour of the state to discuss education policy issues with local school leaders and elected state officials.  We hope you will join that discussion, and look forward to working with you on the next steps in making Kansas first in the nation in educational achievement.

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