• Tue, Mar 25 - 10:00 am ET

Indiana Is The First State To Say ‘Hell No’ To Unnecessary Common Core Standards

shutterstock_115746919Great news for parents and teachers who are frustrated with Common Core—change may be coming sooner than you anticipated, and it all starts with Indiana. As of Monday, Indiana was the first state to formally withdraw from Common Core educational standards, out of the 45 states that have adopted Common Core in recent years.

Common Core is designed to provide educational standards for what students should learn in reading and math based on grade level. Critics of the program believe the pressure and rigorous standards to be unnecessary.

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana agrees as he made the state’s refusal possible. Pence signed a law that will allow Indiana to create its own academic standards—essentially giving a big “Hell No” to the nationwide initiative that has received backlash from parents and teachers after its implementation in 2010.

Pence explains:

I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed standards that meet the needs of our people.

If Indiana is any indicator, Pence might be right. There have been more than 200 bills on national standards introduced this year to slow or stop Common Core altogether—roughly an 85% increase from last year.

Even though Indiana said, “Don’t boss me” in the Common Core debate, the state’s new educational standards are not yet set in stone. Indiana’s revised standards are projected to be complete by April 14, 2014, and will be presented to the Indiana Education Roundtable. Some experts have pointed out that Indiana’s original educational standards were very similar to Common Core standards.

Regardless of the outcome, Indiana is making waves. Oklahoma is another state currently weighing the possibility of using different educational standards outside of Common Core. For those who believe Common Core to be over-the-top, you can consider Indiana’s opt-out a small victory.

(Image: Dragon Images/Shutterstock)

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  • Kay_Sue

    I understand that people have a problem with Common Core, but I don’t understand the praise people have for shifting back to state-designed curriculums. We know that this creates wide discrepancies in the quality of education provided across the nation. In my opinion, if anything in our country should be nationalized, it is absolutely education. Conceivably, you could be educated anywhere in the US and wind up working anywhere else–I fully believe that a student educated in Alabama or Florida or North Carolina should have the same chance of employment and success as a person educated in California or Washington or Wisconsin or New York. And yet, we know, when states design their curriculums, there’s an incredibly wide variation in them.

    I support Common Core. My son has been under it since kindergarten and I have no complaints. I am glad our state took a step back on testing, because I don’t think our students–especially in older grades–were ready for it so soon after the rollout. It was unfair to expect kids to adjust without a transitional period. I do hope that they give the curriculum a chance before they take any more drastic action though. They had a bill in our state legislature to stop it, and I lost all respect for the sponsors of the bill when a teacher emailed them to say, “Hey, I’m a teacher, and I support this bill” and received a nasty email back about how he–as an educator–did not fully understand the ramifications of the new curriculum. Our Education Subcommittee opted to maintain CC for two years, until 2016, with no testing based on the Core yet, and then reevaluate the situation. I think it’s a good plan, that gives the program a chance, while also not locking us into it without data.

    • TngldBlue

      I have to disagree with this desire for national standards. To me, it’s magical thinking that we can teach all kids the same things, with the same effect so they can go to any state and get the same job. Not only are all kids different but so are the states. I live in Michigan which has entirely different employment needs than say, Florida. I might get on board with minimum standards but common core has tied the hands of educators and reinforced the idea that standardized testing is everything, to the great detriment of kids.

    • Kay_Sue

      I disagree. No set of standards call for increased testing. A greater focus on tying school outcomes to funding places on emphasis on more testing.

      We live in a nation that is more fluid than it has ever been. One of the underpinnings for the recession has been a lack of mobility–the housing crash meant people were forced to remain in the same area, thus trapping talent and labor in areas where they weren’t needed while simultaneously denying it to areas that needed it. It may seem unrelated, but it’s a huge component in our modern economy: the ability to go and apply your skills where they are needed.

      I still believe in local application. Our state adopted the Common Core Curriculum–but the district still controlled how the curriculum was taught in their schools. I think it’s struck a good balance, and it faces a fair amount of support–in addition to criticism–in our area. It allowed us to have the standards, but also diversify the education itself for the targeted “audience” if you will.

    • TngldBlue

      You may not be aware of the increase in testing if your state hasn’t adopted it yet but CC does call for a great increase. “Formative” testing will be done in grades KG-2nd (a 3 hour test mind you, imagine forcing a 5 year old to sit for that), students in grades 3-12 will have annual math & reading tests that are longer than the ones prior to CC. Instead of one PARCC math & reading test in high school there will now be 3 in addition to a listening & speaking test. Schools are strongly encourages to test 2-3 times per year instead of just annually. There is a reason testing companies were involved in the formulation of the CC standards and it wasn’t out of a goodwill. This was personally the death knell to any illusions I had about sending our daughter to public school.

      The lack of mobility during the recession wasn’t caused by the failure of the education system-an engineer from Michigan could work in 15 other industries succesfully-the problem was the housing market crash and unemployment. I just don’t buy that argument.

      Education needs reform no doubt. But a good start would have been to stop tying funding to property taxes to first ensure every child has the opportunity for a solid education. Instead we’ve introduced a set of standards lower than most states had before and expect it to work.

    • pixie

      Ladies and Gentlemen….THIS is how to do a disagreement and debate successfully. Trolls, take note (not you, Robotic Socks, you’re cool). It’s cool to have different opinions and it makes thing better without the insults and with proper grammar. Yay! Hugs and cookies for all!

      (And not calling you a troll, TngldBlue, because I know you’re not ;) )

    • TngldBlue

      Ha who you calling a troll :) I will never turn down hugs & cookies, NEVER!!!!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I live in an area near a base and a few colleges, so we have LOTS of children coming from different states. It’s constant. I get a couple of new students a month, and they’re from all wildly different places. The differences and gaps in the education of children who have moved around a lot is amazing. I don’t teach math, but it’s the simplest example. Say you live in a state that teaches fractions in fourth grade, but you move right at the end of third. The school you move to began fractions in third grade. You’re now a year behind and have no effing clue why they keep sticking numbers on top of each other and what the hell they’re talking about when they’re cutting up pizza slices on your worksheets. As a teacher in this situation, I’m for Common Core. Yes, it’s harder, but stuff has been dumbed down for years, and I welcome the support of challenging my students (I’ve been trying to for years but the curriculum didn’t support it). And my state’s testing has lessened with it, instead of increased.

    • K.

      I’m not convinced that there is necessarily an equity problem state-to-state in terms of quality of education–I’m one to believe, as a teacher, that the more decisions are connected to the local, the better. Students in one region have different needs than students in another. In my state, there are quite a few children of immigrants and migrants, and many of these children require say, additional language support than children in regions where you don’t see this kind of diversity. I’d prefer it if curricular decisions were made with a clearer view of what kind of population the schools are trying to teach.

    • Kay_Sue

      I can see applications of standards varying, but I can’t get behind different standards themselves. Your kids aren’t being educated to do well in school–they are being educated to do well in a life that could take them anywhere. Both of my parents were educated in a different state…and both of them wound up working in an entirely different region. My husband is the same. We live in an incredibly fluid society, and I do believe it calls for greater consistency across the board with regards to standards.

    • K.

      I’m not sure that the problem is necessarily with Common Core itself–ie, having standards–so much as the assessment and funding tied to assessment. I don’t think that a disagreement with national standards is necessarily a push to not have standards at all or to lower the standards, but it’s probably a statement as to the fact that “standards” and the collection of big data has inappropriate applications and that these standards are tied to significant things like funding that have absolutely no awareness as to actual educational need. Perhaps there is the feeling that until we change the assessment tools as well as the funding structure, then we’re no longer going to participate in the game.

    • Sri

      I think you hit the nail on the head again. I don’t have a problem with national standards in and of themselves. I actually like that I would worry less that students coming from another state will have huge gaps in knowledge coming into my state simply because they’re from another state.

      What I don’t think works is the funding and pay model tied to the standardized tests. A local district was threatened with a loss of funding because they have so many first and second year ELL students that they fell below the required testing threshold for funding. They had to force students barely able to speak the language to take long, intense tests in order to maintain the funding required to keep the language specialists working with these students. Several students had breakdowns, some were even physically ill in their testing booklets, all in the name of standards. It was a horrible situation.

      At the same time, I recognize that there needs to be a way to ensure that standards are being met. It’s a tricky situation.

    • Kheldarson

      I agree that we need to be teaching kids the same thing across the board, but as a trained teacher (not currently teaching), throwing all say to the top is a bad idea as well. It puts unfair strain on the bottom levels (the teachers and students) as they attempt to hold to standards that may not be possible at the moment (student is struggling this year, class needs more time on topic A while B is covered more next year, etc.). There needs to be flexibility and say from the bottom to the top so that our individual children can be addressed and not lost in the shuffle.

    • Kay_Sue

      I have to disagree and agree, in a way. You have to have a common goal, with benchmarks, that you are striving towards as a team, or the group loses focus. That goal always comes from the top down to an extent.

      I mentioned in an earlier comment that I do think application has to be individualized. Our school district balanced it well–we are required to follow the Common Core, but they have differentiated to address the students that we have.

    • Kheldarson

      The problem is that while, yes, the goal should come from the top, the application can’t. Yet a lot of school districts find themselves further informed by standards and goals and mandates just what tools, tests, and resources they can use. This is when things become an issue.

      I’m glad your district found a way to address things appropriately. If all schools would, or were capable of doing so, then I’m sure this conversation would be a moot point. :)

    • ChopChick

      Thank you Kay Sue.

    • Kay_Sue

      Thanks. I know this subject is controversial for a lot of people, so putting my opinion on it out there always makes me nervous in a way.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I value your opinion because I am learning a lot about CC through the comments!

    • Kay_Sue

      Thanks. I like seeing everyone else’s experiences too because it reminds me that my experience is not global. I think a lot of the success we’ve had comes from our district and the teachers my son has had, and it’s important to remember that isn’t the case for everyone.

    • Robotic Socks

      Perhaps if they divide the cores into 3 levels, starting with Easy Core, Medium Core and Hardcore. They can have movies for each group too.

      Kids can’t wait to watch Hardcore movies in school!

  • Alicia Kiner

    I’m so glad someone is listening. The teachers at my kids’ school HATE the common core programs and they’re quite vocal about it. My daughter’s class is the first grade class to experience this 2nd grade curriculum and they are all struggling. My son’s class, who had the foundation of the previous program, isn’t struggling nearly as much. The great thing is, they moved teachers around last year, so they can see exactly where the students are lacking. And we’re not talking individual students, we’re talking in general. My daughter, is in the top reading group for her grade which is great, until you take a closer look at the books that are “suggested” grade level and realize they’re the same books they did in first grade.There is so much curriculum they are REQUIRED to go through each day with the kids that they are missing a recess that was supposed to be part of their standard schedule. There’s very little time for the kids to ask questions during class, very little time for one on one instruction. And my kids go to a very small school.

    All that being said, Kay_Sue has a very valid point. Education should be the same no matter what state you live in. I think this is one situation where the idea is fantastic, but it needs work. The horrible part is, there are children IN this. We are using the entire nation’s children as guinea pigs in a national experiment. If it succeeds, fantastic. But what if it fails? I really hate to think we are setting up our children for failure. I’m doing everything I can on my end to help my kids excel in school, but I’m not a teacher. I really wish someone would listen to the teachers who are in this everyday. Because, there may be some that have huge problems with it, there may be some who like it, but ultimately, the teachers can tell us where the problems are, and where the successes are.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I have several friends who are teachers, and what I hear most often is how frustrated they are and how there is very little they can do about it. Of course, this isn’t necessarily related to the Common Core. But I feel bad for teachers who have to deal with everything firsthand and don’t have a voice.