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February 26, 2014

VCSC reviewing new academic standards

TERRE HAUTE — A draft of Indiana’s proposed “college and career readiness” academic standards appears largely based on Common Core, according to the Vigo County School Corp. deputy superintendent.

Additional standards have been added, but a VCSC review of grades 1 to 3 indicated “there is not a huge change,” said Karen Goeller, deputy superintendent. “As we look at it, it is largely still Common Core,” which are nationally crafted academic standards.

The revised standards look like a mix of Common Core and what have been Indiana’s academic standards, she said.

One of the standards added at the third grade, she noted, is “to write legibly,” although it doesn’t state whether that writing should be manuscript or cursive.

The public can review and comment on proposed, revised standards until March 12 on the IDOE website at www.doe.in.gov.

Last year, the Legislature decided to “pause” further implementation of Common Core and called for a comprehensive review.

The state Board of Education had adopted the Common Core as Indiana’s standards in August 2010, a decision that prompted controversy.

The state Board of Education must make a final decision on Indiana’s academic standards before July 1.

In the meantime, this past year, the VCSC and other districts have taught both Common Core and Indiana academic standards. Common Core raises academic expectations in reading, writing and math, Goeller said.

The Indiana Department of Education plans to pilot CoreLink for grades 3 to 8 during the ISTEP-Plus testing window from May 5 to 16, Goeller said. CoreLink, a college and career readiness assessment, is aligned to national Common Core standards, Goeller said. “That shows a commitment” to Common Core, she said.

The CTB CoreLink assessments are designed to help schools ease the transition to Common Core State Standards, according to the CTB McGraw Hill website. They will consist of a practice test, a 32-minute English test and a 32-minute math test.

Also, Goeller noted, the College Board has announced that the new SAT will be aligned with Common Core State Standards in 2016. “It is important that our state standards help prepare our students for upcoming challenges such as the new SAT,” she said.

The big question in her mind is whether Indiana will develop its own state assessment to test the revised standards or use one developed for other states that have adopted Common Core.

IDOE officials have told school districts they can continue to use the textbooks they’ve already purchased that are based on Common Core. The Vigo County School Corp. adopted a reading series aligned to Common Core.

State officials also have told educators the average parent is unlikely to notice a difference between the proposed Indiana standards and the national Common Core standards, Goeller said.

The bottom line in educating students, she said, is to consider the targets and challenges students face in the future, including the SAT. “If the SAT is aligned with Common Core, we want to prepare them for that,” she said.

The school district wants to remain focused on language arts and math and it wants students prepared for college and careers, she said. “We want them to be successful readers and to comprehend challenging texts. We want them prepared in STEM topics, ready for college admission and successful in future careers,” she said.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has been a strong supporter of Common Core. Derek Redelman, the state chamber’s vice president for education, hopes people will not try to judge the proposed standards or do a tally based on whether they are Common Core, Indiana academic standards or come from other sources.

“If people have concerns about the standards, let’s talk about specific concerns and specific ways we can make them better,” he said. “It should not matter where they came from.”

There is a lot of overlap between different sets of standards, he said. “Let’s not try to throw out a whole set of standards and suggest that none of it can come back.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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