As testimony was heard in Columbus last month on a bill that would repeal the Common Core standards for the state's school districts, several Streetsboro school leaders voiced support for the standards, which emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
School Board member Denise Baba announced during an Aug. 4 meeting the general assembly was taking testimony for and against House Bill 597, which is still under consideration.
"I think that Ohio as a state, in general, is one of the better states to have your student educated in," she said. "But you can always do better. These standards are an attempt to raise the rigor for students because the world is changing, and what was appropriate 20 to 30 years ago is no longer relevant in the world we live in."
Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh said repealing Common Core standards would be a waste of resources, effort and time.
"Everything we've been doing for the couple years has been aligning our resources to support the Common Core," he said. "Financially, districts can't afford to throw out the baby with the bathwater."
Daulbaugh said the "Common Core standards is probably one of the best things that's happened in curriculum in years."
The set of standards establishes a common set of standards across states, so when a student moves, teachers in the new district know what information he should have mastered in his old district, said Daulbaugh.
It also emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for college.
"From my perspective, I'm one of those people who oppose any opposition toward the Common Core," he said.
Baba said the Common Core covers math and language arts skills, but not social studies and science.
Common Core is a set of educational standards that state students should be able to exhibit certain skills at a certain point their educations, she added. Curriculum, how the district meets those standards, is still controlled locally.
"Nobody in the federal government is telling us what to teach in our schools," she said.
A closer look
Parent Carmen Laudato said she has mixed feelings about the Common Core standards. At this point, she said it may not make sense to repeal the standards, though.
"I don't see any way of backing out of it now," she said. "I think the only way to go forward is trying to do better on implementation and definitely try to more on the parent education."
Laudato said she believes Common Core standards do encourage higher level thinking, but parents feel confused about the new way of teaching math, particular.
"From a parent perspective, I wasn't trained in Common Core," she said. "Sometimes when they bring this stuff home, I hand it back to them, and say, 'I don't have the slightest clue what to do with this.'"
Laudato said she also worries that students won't be prepared for the SAT and ACT, the dominant college entrance exams that are still based on tradition education where students are trained to "regurgitate" information.
Director of Curriculum Aireane Curtis said the younger students learning Common Core math are asked to break down numbers in addition and subtraction problems into smaller numbers to develop a conceptual understanding of larger numbers in math operations.
For instance, when students understand that the number 327 can be broken down into 300, 20 and 7, "they're starting to see how numbers are formed."
"I know people I graduated with who have no number sense at all because all they used were formulas," said Curtis.
She said when children develop a strong number sense at a young age, advanced math will make more sense to them. For example, they maybe able to make reasonable estimates more easily.
In language arts, she said teachers are pulling more reading from social studies and science topics.
"As adults, most of what we read is informational text" such as directions, news and other items.
In literature, higher order questions are emphasized, she added. For instance, in "Jack and the Beanstalk," teachers might ask whether Jack was a good or bad person. These kinds of critical thinking questions increase in complexity through the grades until students are analyzing literature and nonfiction at nearly a college level in high school.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens