North Dakota Remains Divided on Common Core


North Dakotans remains divided over the Common Core education standards rolled out to school districts across the state last year.

This year will be the first that students in the state take tests aligned with the new standards, but the state legislature will already hear a bill hoping to remove them, reports Catherine Ross for WDAZ.

District 46 ND Representative Jim Kasper (R) says, “It’s the responsibility of the legislature to determine what our education system is, what it becomes and what direction it goes.”

According to North Dakota Superintendent of Academic Instruction Kirsten Baesler, the new standards were set up as expectations in the real world went up.  “It’s not enough just to know the automaticity and the algorithm and the equation… you have to be able to apply that to a future problem,” said Baesler.

Baesler went on to say that teachers in the state play a key role in the creation of state-tailored standards and curriculum.

Meanwhile, opponents of the standards feel they are causing a loss of local control over education issues.  “It’s a federal takeover, over time, of our education system,” says Kasper.

Leah Peterson of the group Stop Common Core in North Dakota said that while they do feel high standards in the state are a positive thing, they are opposed to how Common Core was introduced, reports Jennifer Johnson for The Dickinson Press.

“It’s not necessarily one or two things,” said Peterson. “It’s a combination of things together that makes it offensive.”

Both sides feel that misinformation is being spread by the other, including the way the state introduced the standards, the level of rigor, and if citizens were included in the decision pertaining to their children’s development.

Similar concerns have caused three states to drop the standards entirely, and a petition is currently circulating North Dakota seeking the same result.

The state Department of Public Instruction reports that the goal of the standards is to allow students to effectively prepare for entry-level careers, academic coursework, and workforce training programs.  Goals are focused on English language arts and math, and skills are organized by grade level.

The developers of the standards consider them to be goals, rather than curricula.  Baesler contends that local school districts are still responsible for the creation of the actual curriculum.

Kasper’s new bill is hoping to remove the standards in North Dakota.  Kasper expects support from both sides on the issue.  “I know there’s just as many Democrats as Republicans who care about our kids in our state.”  A number of education organizations have recently created the group North Dakotans for Student Success in support of the bill.

The bill for repeal is set to be heard by the North Dakota legislature this February.

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