Is Common Core Right For North Dakota? - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Is Common Core Right For North Dakota?

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Parents, school administrators and community members are pro and anti Common Core for a variety of reasons. The idea behind it is to make sure every U.S. student gets the same learning opportunity, so they are ready for college or a career when they graduate.

The issues with Common Core standards range from who's actually footing the bill for the standards to how math and language arts are being emphasized or de-emphasized in the classrooms.

Ms. Ronnigen's kindergartners are practicing their sight words. Common Core standards implemented last spring, dictate kindergarten students should know 75 sight words by the end of the school year. Ms. Ronnigen says more than half of her class knew at least 75 sight words by February.

"We have a celebration each time. We have a little sticker book that they read their words, and once they can read them fluently, three times, then they get to add their sticker to it, and it's very exciting to them," says Ronningen. 

School administrators say the new standards are helping push students in math and language arts. Ronnigen says teachers still have control over their lesson plans and curriculum. The standards present bench marks, like the sight words.

"Teachers have always taught based on standards. That's nothing new. What's new is that it adds that consistency, and it adds that specificity and that makes it much easier," says Ronningen.

Members of Stop Common Core in North Dakota say they've spoken with teachers who disagree with the idea of Common Core being simpler.

"From classroom to classroom is different. There's no possible way to have every teacher teaching the exact same thing, because then our teachers would be just like robots," says Christa Wiederholt.

Wiederholt, a former teacher, says she's glad she home schools her children. She says Common Core standards force teachers to align with the standards and lose their own creative touch in the classroom.

Another Stop Common Core member, Lea Berger says the standards were paid for by the federal government, which she says violates federal education laws.

"The North Dakota Curriculum initiative was paid with federal title funds, given to the Department of Public Instruction. You really have to ask yourself, 'Is this in fact state led? Or is the federal government driving this with federal dollars?'" says Berger.

The Department of Public Instruction disagrees with Stop Common Core, saying no federal funds are financing Common Core standards in North Dakota.

Ryan Townsend "The standards themselves are grade level expectations. They don't stipulate what book to use, what lesson to design. You know, that's entirely a teacher's choice," says DPI's director of Academic Standards Ryan Townsend

DPI says transparency is key with the standards, and  no question on the standards will go unanswered. 

Both Stop Common Core In North Dakota and the Department of Public Instruction invite everyone to their websites for more information on Common Core standards.

Stop Common Core North Dakota http://www.stopcommoncorend.com/

Department of Public Instruction http://www.dpi.state.nd.us/standard/common_core.shtm

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