Common Standards inch toward uniformity for K-12 graduates

The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association has released a draft of common standards for kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics and reading as a first step toward creating uniform curriculum guidelines for all 50 states.

The standards, which were reviewed by college faculty, are intended to clarify which skills students should have upon graduating high school. Improving K-12 education is an initiative of President Barack Obama.

According to the White House Web site, one of the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is to "make progress toward college and career-ready standards and rigorous assessments that will improve both teaching and learning."

Although the 44 skills established by the CCSSO and NGA are broad, the formation of nationwide criteria is considered a major development in primary and secondary education.

The Obama administration has offered support of the Common Core Standards Initiative Act, and $4.35 billion of federal money has been set aside for high schools that adhere to the standards.

New York, however, may have a difficult time retrieving this money due to a state law prohibiting the use of students' grades as a factor in determining whether a teacher will receive tenure.

Education professor Kelly Keegan said that the law should remain in place even if it means that New York will receive less money.

"You can't say [students' grades] are a direct result of a teacher's teaching," Keegan said, noting that the reasons for a student receiving a poor grade on an exam could range from not having a good breakfast to wearing uncomfortable clothing. She also said, however, that such money could be used to improve the infrastructure of schools that are in the greatest need of funding.

Shane Zanetti, a Geneseo graduate who teaches 10th-grade history at Campbell-Savona High School, said he would "rather see the money go toward struggling districts to raise standards individually," adding that the money could go toward "books or technology."

"The [current] standards definitely need to be relooked at," said junior Erin Harding, an education major. "Students come from so many different backgrounds, it's hard for some to adjust to college."

The draft of the standards is available at corestandards.org and the public is invited to give feedback until Oct. 21.

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