Teachers defend use of common core in Idaho

Administration says they are continuing to protect students as best as they can and are training them on being situationally aware. (Source: KMVT)
Administration says they are continuing to protect students as best as they can and are training them on being situationally aware. (Source: KMVT)(KMVT)
Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 12:04 PM MST
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A couple of weeks ago KMVT ran a story about a state representative saying Common Core Standards in education aren't working.

KMVT wanted to hear from teachers and they say it's working.

Kimberly Allen, an instructional coach, at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls, said out of the more than 200 secondary educators in the district, not one of them have any complaints.

“I have never heard a teacher say that they disagree with something they found in the standards, so they're very high quality,” Allen said.

Those standards include second graders being able to solve word problems, and in high schoolers, using probability to make decisions.

However, there are misconceptions when it comes to Common Core, according to Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield.

“Confusing standards and curriculum, that is something that we've seen quite a bit. Like ‘Oh I don't like how my child, I can't help them with their math homework’ for example. That is not a standard, that's a curriculum,” Critchfield explained.

Sixth grade social studies teacher at O’Leary Middle School Lisa Odaffer agreed.

“I think a lot of parents are worried that Common Core means that there's some faceless bureaucrat in Washington DC that has like, dictated what I have to teach in my classroom," Odaffer said. "And that's not the case in Idaho at all. We have standards that are written by Idaho teachers that are basically just guidelines so that the teachers know where I’m supposed to go and what my students need to know by the end of sixth grade."

Both Odaffer and Allen said they've seen first-hand that Common Core works.

“I would say that over all, that my students are coming to my classroom more prepared to learn," Odaffer said. "They have a better foundation for when they get to me. They are excelling at writing that in a way five years ago kids were not."

“Test scores remain pretty steady," Allen. "We've had some improvement in say writing scores among our secondary students. We've seen tremendous jumps here at Canyon Ridge actually in reading scores. They're moving between 18 and 20 points when we receive them from middle school."

All three agree talking with the child's teacher is the best way for parents to understand.

“Teachers are always willing to answer questions for parents who want to be involved in their kids’ education," Odaffer said. "I have a few parents even now in sixth grade, who are, you know, I get emails, we've talked on the phone, we've met in person, and they just want to know what's going on; and I'm really happy to share that with them."

More of those standards and more information on Common Core in general can be found on the State Department of Education's website.

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