The three-year transition to a more challenging K-12 curriculum in math and English language arts has just begun, but some school officials worry the state isn't moving fast enough.
The Common Core Standards will:
1. be more rigorous
2. demand higher-order thinking
3. introduce some concepts at an earlier age.
4. Allow for interstate comparisons.
- "South Dakota will get its best look yet at how its students stack up against much of the rest of the country."
"An investment we can't affort not to fund."
- Harrisburg Superintendent Jim Holbeck said teachers will need a lot of time to align their lessons to Common Core. That’s going to require professional development during the summer, he said, and teachers will have to be paid for that time.
“This is an investment we can’t afford not to fund,” he said.
But for now, school districts are planning to bear much of the costs on their own.
Transition creates gaps in instruction
- The tricky thing about moving to Common Core will be the transition years.
- When the new standards are implemented and a key math concept moves from second grade to first grade, what happens to that year’s second-graders?
- "Gap Map" - In Sioux Falls, committees of educators are assembling a “gap map,” which will identify the lessons students will miss if nothing is done. Next, they’ll create mini-units for the affected teachers to use during the transition.
Testing students during the transition presents its own challenges.
South Dakota is part of a 30-state consortium developing new assessments they hope will be ready for 2015. In the interim, students will continue to take the Dakota-STEP.
That means that until at least 2014, students will be tested and schools held accountable based on the state’s old math standards. But many school districts will have the new standards in place well before then.
The state will embed the Dakota-STEP with 20 questions from Common Core, but those questions will not count for school accountability.
“Even though Dakota-STEP will continue to be administered right up until 2015, teachers will be teaching the new K-12 Common Core state math standards starting next year in 2012,” McAdaragh said.