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Idaho & the Common Core Standards

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Idaho to retain control of education content.

The quality of our public school education system continues to be an important issue in our state. This is in part because of a concern that our students graduating from our high schools are “unprepared for the rigors of postsecondary education or the workforce.” As an example, just 47 percent of our Idaho high school graduates continue on to higher education and of those, “nearly half need remediation once they get there!”

In an effort to improve the K-12 education success of Idaho students, Governor Otter and Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna joined other states in developing higher standards known as the Common Core Standards Initiative; new academic standards in mathematics and English language arts “that are higher, more in depth, and comparable with any other country in the world.”

Idaho teachers will begin teaching under these new standards beginning in September of this year. Given that these are higher standards than are in existence now, the State Department of Education is providing support to assist teachers to become proficient in teaching to the standards. Professional support includes professional development workshops and other resources provided by the SDE and our state universities. 

In response to a question I asked the state superintendent’s office, I learned that the workshops have been well attended and more have been scheduled than first expected because of the interest of educators in attending the workshops to learn more on implementing the new standards.

The intent of Idaho’s involvement in the common core effort is to improve the quality of our education system by elevating the math and English requirements to increase the success of our graduating students going into the workforce or pursuing higher education opportunities. This is the goal; however, adoption and implementation of common core standards in Idaho to achieve this goal is not without controversy.

There are those who believe that the federal government has required that Idaho adopt the Common Core State Standards and that implementation of the standards is a push for federal control of education that will lead to “less education choice and competition and is ultimately a push for federal control of education—public and private.”

Others say that “standardization of education is not the answer for what ails education,” implying that schools should have independence in how they approach education.

 Another argument against adopting the standards is that the standards will “dumb down education in Idaho.”

The Idaho Department of Education’s website provides responses to these and other concerns with implementation of the standards. As an example, in response to the charge of the federal government requiring Idaho to adopt the standards, the Department states:

“Idaho voluntarily chose to adopt the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts as Idaho’s new Core Standards in these two subject areas. The federal government has never reviewed a state’s standards, and they have not reviewed these standards. These standards were the result of a state-led effort. Idaho signed a Memorandum of Agreement with other states that clearly defines this as a state-led effort. Specifically, the MOA states: “The parties support a state-led effort and not a federal effort to develop a common core of state standards.” The state-led effort also is evident in the fact that not every state has adopted these standards. Each state reviewed these standards and made its own decision.”

As I have stated, adoption of the Common Core Standards continues to be a controversial issue, but the fact remains that less than half of our graduating seniors go on to post-secondary education and of those, a large percentage who enter a higher education institution require some kind of remediation, including math and English, and many drop out because of their inability to handle the higher level course work.

I believe that we need to increase our standards for our public school students to ensure they can be successful in the workplace or pursuing higher education opportunities and that increasing our standards of learning will help insure their success. The Common Core Standards appear to be a positive movement in this direction.

Given, however, that this is a controversial issue I would recommend that readers of the Journal who have an interest in this issue refer to the Department of Education’s website at sde.Idaho.gov to learn more about Common Core and to form your own opinion on the positive or negative benefit of Idaho’s implementation of the Common Core Standards.

Thanks for reading and as always feel free to contact me at my home email at geskridge(at)coldreams.com, by phone at (208) 265-0123 or by mail at P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho 83825. George

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

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A Seat in the House, Common Core Standards

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