The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

April 13, 2014

Kelly Hawes: Nation’s schools need shared set of standards

Barack Obama and Mitch Daniels don’t agree on a lot, but they agree on this: The United States needs a common set of academic standards to define what every student ought to know.

Deep down, we all understand this. We all recognize that if a child suddenly moves from Kansas to Indiana or from Michigan to California, that child needs to be able to join his or her new classmates without having to do a lot of catching up. We know that what a third-grader needs to know in Indiana should be roughly the same as what a third-grader needs to know in any other state.

We need this national consensus so that a student from the Hoosier state has the same basic knowledge as a student from Texas or New York when they all find themselves competing for the same job or the same academic scholarship.

We want Indiana’s high school graduates to be able to compete on a world stage. We want them to have the knowledge they need to succeed in college, in a career and in life.

And yet, the Indiana General Assembly this year voted to make Indiana the first state in the country to move away from the Common Core. At least on the surface, that seems like a step in the wrong direction.

Of course, adopting a new set of standards doesn’t have to mean rejecting the Common Core entirely.

The Indiana Department of Education already has a draft of the new standards set for a vote by the State Board of Education on April 28, and according to an internal report, those standards aren’t entirely new.

The report found that more than 70 percent of the proposed standards for sixth through 12th grade came directly from Common Core and about 20 percent were edited versions of the national standards. Contrary to what some folks might tell you, that’s not really a bad thing.

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