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States Pull Back From Common Core Standards

Parents should understand what reversing course on the new standards will mean for their students.

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High school students works on an exam. Some states are reversing course on Common Core, citing concerns over increased testing.
Parents should ask why some state lawmakers want to reverse course on adopting Common Core standards.

Lawmakers in some states hope to halt the transition to the Common Core State Standards, even as school districts across the country are rolling them out.

In Alabama, senators are considering a bill to repeal the standards, which the state's Board of Education adopted in 2010. Alabama schools are already using the new math standards, which aim to give the subject context by teaching high school students to use mathematical models to analyze everyday situations, and are set to implement the English standards before the start of the next school year.

[Read why Common Core standards will be a "heavy lift."]

Legislators in Indiana, Georgia and South Dakota have also taken steps to halt Common Core, though each state is in various phases of adopting the standards.

Only a handful of the 45 states that have adopted the standards – which supporters say will improve college and career readiness and set a uniform benchmark for all students – have backtracked, but experts predict other states will follow suit.

"We will see more states reconsider their position to implement the Common Core, especially as the costs of adoption and the process of training teachers become clearer," Michael Horn, cofounder and executive director of Innosight Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, told Scholastic Administrator.

As lawmakers re-examine the merits of the standards, parents should ask the following questions to enhance their own awareness of the standards, and the potential benefits or harm of implementing them.

1. Why are they backtracking? Parents should do their due diligence to truly understand why state officials want to put the brakes on the Common Core standards.

In most cases, opponents of the standards argue three points: That the state's own standards are already rigorous, that the effectiveness of the Common Core standards is not proven and that national standards diminish the autonomy of state and local education officials.

[Read about one state's experience with Common Core.]

But as with any political position, posturing from each side may leave out pertinent facts, so parents should research the accuracy of the claims made by their politicians.

2. What will it cost? Most states have already invested time and money to train teachers and update materials to comply with the new standards. And teachers in some states are already using the standards in their classrooms.

Parents should ask what would happen to those resources if states reverse course. Would the textbooks and technology still be usable?

Beyond the resources already spent, parents should also look down the road, too. Districts that implement new, online standardized tests called for under the standards – and that upgrade their computer systems so students can take them – could eat up a big chunk of school budgets.

3. How do your teen's teachers feel about it? Legislators are not at the ground level – teachers are. And many of them have been steeped in Common Core standards for months.

Talk to your student's high school teachers and ask their opinions on the standards and whether they think the change will improve your teen's chances to succeed after high school graduation.

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