Rogers County school superintendents are expressing mixed feelings toward Gov. Mary Fallin’s signing of House Bill 3399 Thursday, repealing the adoption of Oklahoma Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English and math.
A more rigorous standard will be directed by the State Board of Education and ratified by the Oklahoma Legislature by August 2016.
In the meantime, schools statewide will be asked to use the Oklahoma Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) standards, previously used by districts from 2003 - 2010.
“We’re waiting instructions, but we’re still going to teach and get students ready for the ACT and advanced placement tests,” said Claremore Superintendent Michael McClaren. “I just hope when the state is developing these new standards, that we’re involved.”
As new standards are implemented, the state will be required to undergo a review to be sure they are without a doubt different from CCSS.
McClaren said if the state gets rid of all Common Core, then districts should not be allowed to give AP, ACT or SAT tests as they are all littered with Common Core requirements.
Common Core standards were created in 2009 to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college and career. Forty-three states, including the District of Columbia have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the standards.
“I want to know what you know — that’s what Common Core is,” said McClaren.
He said teachers have been using teaching methods similar to CCSS for dozens of years. They would evaluate themselves by teaching in a way that enabled students to explain what they had learned.
“Curriculum development is nothing new, but it is the hardest thing that we do in school. To get teachers and students where they need to be in critical subject areas, can be a chore. Schools really have to work on proper pacing,” said McClaren. “If we’re not careful, we may have one building doing one thing and another building doing something completely different.”
He said the scariest part is that districts are relying on the current state department to provide us with marching orders.
“I don’t know if I’d rather receive marching orders from them or get it from a group of legislators,” he said. “Our current state superintendent has shown us that she does not want our advice or input. I don’t have confidence in the state department right now.”
Verdigris Superintendent Mike Payne said he believes there is good and some “not so good” in Common Core.
“I am undecided on whether I support the decision to repeal CCSS. There may be better possibilities out there that we have yet to discover, however, we’ve spent a lot of time and resources working toward implementing Common Core and our district was ready for it,” said Payne. “We have already purchased textbooks that utilize some of the requirements for Common Core. I would think it to be almost impossible to get rid of all Common Core.”
HB 3399 passed with bipartisan support in both chambers 71-18 in the House and 31-10 in the Senate.
“We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core,” said Fallin. “Now is the time for Oklahomans, parents, citizens, educators, employers and elected officials, to unite behind the common goal of improving our schools. That begins with doing the hard work of building new, more rigorous Oklahoma standards.”
Fallin declared herself a supporter of Common Core as recently as January.
“It was originally designed as a state-led, not federal, initiative that each state could choose to voluntarily adopt,” she said. “Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core. President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards. What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president’s plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies.”
Common Core was recently endorsed throughout the business community, including the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“It’s not a bad deal. The one state that has made the most gain from kids not doing well to doing well is Tennessee, and they’re a Common Core state,” McClaren said.