The No Child Left Behind initiative may finally have been left behind, but school officials said they were positive the new changes will be a more workable replacement.
Common Core State Standards, a set of requirements being implemented in the United States aims at “preparing America’s students for college and career,” according to education officials from around the country. Through a baseline process, much like NCLB, states must assure students are meeting “appropriate” benchmarks every year.
According to the program’s website, the standards “clearly communicate what is expected of students at each grade level.” Teachers, parents and community leaders around the nation have collaborated to create the standards.
“The Common Core is a shared state movement between 46 states that says what information students should learn at each grade level,” State Superintendent Denise Juneau said.
Juneau said the standards will provide educators a way to monitor students’ progress in English language arts and math.
Three Forks incoming Superintendent Jerry Breen said introducing the Common Core will be one of the main items on his agenda as he takes over as superintendent.
“We need to get up to speed on the common core standards,” he said. “ When teachers buy new books, they’ll be looking to see that they’re aligned.”
Breen said the transition will take a lot of time, but eventually it will help students.
“What it will do is when kids come from other states, they should have matching curriculums,” he said.
The learning curve won’t be as severe, Breen said, so students who transfer won’t be outpacing or lagging behind classmates.
While some question whether the new program will stifle innovative teaching techniques, Breen said, “It’s up to the teachers to still be creative and still come up with new ideas.”
Juneau said that although the standards are universal, the teaching methods don’t need to be.
“Each school district still decides what text books they can use,” she said. “The shared standards are all the same. The way students learn that content does not have to be in the same way.”
That freedom in the classroom, is what Juneau said separates the Common Core from NCLB.
“I got so excited about the Common Core because it is such a shift from No Child Left Behind, which dictated exactly what teachers could do,” she said.
Belgrade High School Vice-Principal Paul Lamb said he has more hope for the Common Core, too.
“The problem with No Child Left Behind is the national legislature said 100 percent of students need to be proficient in math and reading by 2014. I don’t think any country has those standards,” he said. “Common Core strays away from 100 percent proficiency. They concentrate on a little more improvement every year.”
Lamb also said there is a Common Core Committee for the district that is helping teachers make the switch to new standards.
“Montana adopted the Common Core standards in November but there won’t be a full transition until 2014,” he said.