Governor Pence and Republican legislators have made statements against the Common Core and both groups have signaled their intent to abandon the national standards. Governor Pence has stated that Indiana should have its own high standards, “written by Hoosiers for Hoosiers.” The Indiana Department of Education and State Board of Education (SBOE) are struggling to agree on how these new Indiana standards will be developed and by whom. Many question if there is ample time to accomplish this task in time for schools and teachers to prepare before the 2014-2015 school year.
What baffles me the most is that these education leaders are failing to recognize that a solution is right under their nose. In 2009, Indiana developed and adopted a set of internationally benchmarked math standards which the Indiana Education Roundtable and the SBOE claimed were “the top in the country.” Instead of implementing these standards that cost a lot of tax dollars to develop, Tony Bennett decided to shelve the standards and wait for the Common Core, adopted a year later. What compels these leaders to insist on developing yet another set of standards and spending more precious tax dollars?
It’s not like the SBOE and the Indiana Educational Roundtable didn’t have an overwhelming amount of supportive evidence for them when they adopted the standards:
The 2009 update of Indiana’s math standards included benchmarking to content covered in the American Diploma Project (ADP) Benchmarks, NAEP Mathematical Frameworks, the NAtional Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points and the National Mathematics Advisory Panel’s Foundations for Success.
Independent reviews from Fordham and Achieve found them intellectually demanding ….contain the essential content at the level of rigor that is consistent with that of national exemplars and are CLEARLY AT THE TOP OF THE MATH STANDARDS IN THE U.S. [emphasis mine]
The process also included review by in-state content specialists from K-12, higher education, and professional associations.
Public review and comment was sought for 80 days to provide opportunity for additional input by teachers, administrators, parents, students. members of the community, and other interested parties.
Additional materials in support of the standards as being “college and career ready” were submitted to the SBOE:
1. The developers of the Common Core, Achieve, deemed them college and career ready and submitted a letter to the SBOE.
2. The Fordham Institute also sent a similar letter to the SBOE signaling their support of the standards.
3. The Indiana 2009 standards are internationally benchmarked and have a proper study correlating the standards to Japan, Singapore and Finland. The Common Core does not have this.
4. They were evaluated by a committee of math professors at Indiana University who supported them and considered them college and career ready.
5. The Indiana Association of Math Educators also sent a letter claiming they were a meaningful articulation of the expectations for student.
If we have a set of standards that meets all the criteria considered essential by all relevant stakeholders, what’s the hold up? The sticking point is that Indiana will have to modify their NCLB waiver if they don’t keep Common Core and substitute a set of “college and career ready” standards approved by Indiana’s institutions of higher-ed. The rational-thinking person would look at the evidence behind the 2009 standards and say these standards meet and surpass the waiver criteria. Let’s drag them out and submit them. Unfortunately, the request hasn’t been made. Why not?
The federal government has the final say over any changes made to the NCLB waiver. Based on the experience of other states that have gone through this process, any alternative set of standards a state wishes to submit must have complete alignment to the Common Core Standards for approval. There is a fear that the 2009 math standards would be rejected by the feds because they are aligned with top national and international standards, not the Common Core. If this is the case, I hope there is a leader among those involved who will champion on behalf of Indiana students and call out the federal government for their abuse of federal waivers to mandate state policy. If they aren’t willing to do this, they should be honest with the people and add “that the federal government allows” after “written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers.”
When did it become acceptable for our leaders to say, “Hey, I know we have this superior set of standards that we already spent money to develop and could adopt quickly to allow schools time to prepare for the next school year, but we’re not going to do that. Instead, we’re going to fight about what to do, spend an extraordinary amount of money, and wind up with standards that aren’t as good. It’s worth it, we’ll be in federal compliance.” That might fly in some circles, but it isn’t going to fly with voters. They are going to be more outraged than ever.
Hoosiers Against Common Core is calling upon all leaders involved with this issue to formally submit the 2009 Indiana math standards to the federal government to be evaluated as “college and career ready” standards. If the feds say they don’t qualify, then leaders MUST challenge their assumptions. If math standards considered the best in the country and on par with high-performing countries aren’t acceptable, we should walk. What are they going to do, punish us for not lowering our standards?
Before anyone cries foul and complains the old standards weren’t working, remember Indiana never used these standards. They are brand new and full of promise.