Common Core Standards Continue To Raise Debates - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Common Core Standards Continue To Raise Debates

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Education is the key to success, but North Dakotans don't all agree that Common Core standards are that key. The Bismarck Mandan Chamber of Commerce hosted a public meeting in March, to learn some of the issues people had. A lot of answers and ideas were tossed around, but was it enough? 

The public meeting brought up questions about standard-based grading and the new math that students are learning. Those questions haven't gone away. 

Standing room only, parents, educators and community members asked the panel of state and school superintendents about Common Core standards.

"At no time do we ever want to anger our parent community. We celebrate the fact that they are a part of their child's education," says Shiloh Christian Superintendent Morgan Forness.

The school leaders said transparency was key. No question would go unanswered, and questions would be directed to the most knowledgeable source.

"Classroom teaching practices and grading practices. Those are questions that I think would be most easily answered through that conversation with teachers, building principals and school superintendents," says DPI Superintendent Kirsten Baesler

Steve Cates, attended the meeting and he says their answers still weren't enough.

"We've been a leader in education quality and accomplishment nationally. So, why didn't we just tweak our examinations and test to meet the supposedly higher rigorous standards?" says Cates.

Lincoln Elementary's principal says there wasn't just one academic area that needed to be fixed.

"The state of North Dakota did it correctly. They got the educators involved in this decision, and they didn't take it lightly. It wasn't about money, it was about what the educators think that our students, in this great state, needed to do to be career and college ready," says Shelly Swanson.

Each school district is in charge of its own standards and implementation, including grading.

"Standard-based grading existed with the old standards long before the newer standards of the common core," says Bismarck Public School Superintendent Tamara Uselman.

"None of us who are parents understand how that fits in with trying to be excellent. Trying to reach a high goal. It seems to me that we're all ready for mediocrity," says Christa Wiederholt.

Wiederholt says she knows parents whose children never get fours. Ronnigen says she gives out fours all the time, but in some cases it's just not possible.

"There's only so many letters of the alphabet, and so many sounds. So, there is not a way to be advanced in that," says teacher Lori Ronnigen.

The Department of Public Instruction says the best thing to do is work with the teachers to help your students.

"Our standard is that you need to be able to multiply a two digit by one digit number. That's that standard. How we instruct them to do that and give them more than one way in their tool box to do that is what our instruction is doing," says math specialist Kaye Anderson

Let's add 43 to 17, traditionally that carry over method works. Three plus seven equals 10. Four plus one is five, plus one more is six. Another way you can do it , is take the three from 43 and add it to the 17, making that 20. So it's 40 plus 20 equals 60.

School administrators say as long as students get the correct answer, there isn't a wrong way to learn.

I spoke with State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler  this morning about the standards.

She says regardless of her opinion it's not within her authority to end them. She says it's up to the legislature. Ultimately, the purpose of the standards is to make sure our students are college and career ready after graduation

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