Kristi's Kids

Jul 29, 2014 9:15 PM by Edgar Ybarra

Common Core in schools. Good or bad?

TUCSON - About 4 years ago the State of Arizona signed-on, with the federal government to reform education.

The so-called "Common Core" standards were adopted, in 2010 and have finally been implemented across the Tucson-metro area.

The problem is, some say, the standards don't add up.

Brad McQueen is a fifth grade teacher, he said, "Data that is pulled from the kids, including their test scores, is linked to the teacher."

He is also the author of "The Cult of Common Core." McQueen is adamantly opposed to the federal government influencing local education. He says, "Common Core" transfers too much power to the federal government.

"...I kind of call it the Obamacare of education..." says McQueen. He adds that he used to help write the Arizona AIMS test. McQueen says now local teachers have seven to fifteen percent input. If people don't like "Common Core, "...in the past they would go to their superintendent and then, up to Phoenix and they could have a big impact. Where are they gonna' go to now?"

But there are those in favor of common core. Jessica Howell, a 3rd grade teacher in the Flowing Wells district says "...we're really having students step it up so they have to write and justify they have to prove answers..." Howell embraces "Common Core." She says, it'll get kids ready for college and career.

"...it's scary to take on any kind of change... but when we set the expectations high? Students achieved, much more so than I even expected," said Howell.

Also embracing Common Core, the Superintendent of the Vail Unified School District, Calvin Baker, he said, "...multiple standards, multiple skills are applied to solve one problem."

The Vail and Flowing Wells school districts are happy with common core and Kristi's Kids may have figured out why. In these districts, textbooks and learning materials stayed the same. It's the district's prerogative.

Calvin Baker of the Vail school district said, "Actually, common core only sets standards it does not prescribe the material. The material, the way something is taught, belongs to the school district and individual teacher."

Amphi school district parent David Shields is unhappy with Common Core. He says "...standards? That's fine. We can teach standards, but then, the type of books they adopted from a new publisher were just outrageous, really."

Meantime, in the Vail school district where materials stayed the same, only lessons changed, a pleasant surprise to Superintendent Calvin Baker. He expected a learning curve, "We expected our scores to go down a little bit but, as we've looked at our preliminary scores, we have maintained or increased across the board."

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