TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana’s proposed new academic standards have much overlap with the Common Core State Standards, says a Vigo County School Corp. administrator.
“Several of our teachers and administrators have examined the new Indiana Academic Standards and have found much overlap” with Common Core, said Karen Goeller, Vigo County School Corp. deputy superintendent.
Wording has changed somewhat and examples from Common Core State Standards have been removed, she said.
Indiana has added standards to those that are Common Core, she said.
In grade one, of the 89 proposed, new Indiana Academic Standards for English/language arts, 19 additional standards were added to the Common Core standards. In grade three, of the 77 proposed, new Indiana Academic Standards for English/language arts, 16 additional standards were added to the Common Core, she said.
The VCSC curriculum department has found mathematics to be more rigorous because of the additional standards, she said. At the elementary level, the Everyday Math curriculum addresses the math standards, she noted.
Similar to other Indiana school districts, Vigo County schools recently adopted a reading series that is based on Common Core.
Now, with added standards, “Districts will need to supplement these materials to ensure that all of the new Indiana Academic Standards are addressed,” she said.
The big concern is what assessment Indiana will use to test the new standards.
Because Indiana has moved away from the “pure” Common Core, it is unlikely that Indiana will be able to use a Common Core assessment that other states might use. “We are anxious to learn more about how our students will be assessed on these new standards,” she said.
Also, because Indiana is adopting its own set of standards, the state won’t be able to compare its test results with those of other states.
Goeller believes it is “extremely important to keep our focus on the Common Core State Standards,” as the ACT and redesigned SAT are aligned to CCSS.
Kevin Bolinger, an Indiana State University associate professor of education, described the proposed new standards as “Common Core without the name” because Common Core is associated with a lot of political controversy.
He does have concerns about too much focus on a lengthy list of specific standards and related testing, because, he said, it discourages students from creative problem solving.
Instruction and student learning become focused on getting the right answer on the test; students, in turn, become less inclined to take intellectual risks, he said.
Also, standards focus on reading, writing and math. In the big picture, reading writing and math “are tools we use to understand the world around us,” Bolinger said. Learning about elective government, the First Amendment and patriotism also are important, “but you can’t measure patriotism on a standardized test,” he said.
He doesn’t believe Common Core and the new proposed standards are that different. They outline which skills students should have at each grade level.
He is opposed to academic standards becoming a detailed, lengthy checklist that focuses on helping kids pass a test. When that happens, “you don’t get into what engages students,” he said.
At some schools, especially those that need to boost test scores, it can lead to “drill and kill,” and result in students hating school, he said.
Project-based learning, on the other hand, encourages enthusiasm and a love of learning that doesn’t end when the school day concludes. “When you get kids excited, they will learn on their own and read on their own,” he said.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or email@example.com.