Common Core

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Who says teaching doesn't pay? 

Probably not Libbi Sparks. The Independence high school teacher recently cashed in a career's worth of math lessons to the tune of $30,000. 

Sparks teaches math at William Chrisman High School in Independence, Missouri, and has nearly three decades of experience teaching in public schools.

She's taught everything from middle school pre-algebra to dual-credit Calculus II. In 2012, she earned prestigious National Board certification. 

In other words, she knows what she is doing. 

Wickipedia-CC

Missouri legislators don’t return to Jefferson City for another month, but two bills that would make big changes to education in the state already have been filed.

One would drastically change the way school districts are accredited and another would stir the controversy around Common Core standards.

Rep. David Wood, a Republican from Versailles in mid-Missouri, pre-filed a bill that would require the state to accredit individual schools rather than entire districts.

gvarc.org / Creative Commons

It’s not really fair, but when many people around here think of quality schools, they think of Kansas.

Indeed, going back decades lots of real estate agents have guided new residents to the Kansas side of the line.

But there’s a significant difference between how Missouri schools and Kansas schools are judged.

"Our Missouri standards tend to rank at the more rigorous levels than do our standards assessments in Kansas," says Dr. Leigh Anne Taylor Knight of the Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

  If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably seen parents complaining that the Common Core has ruined math for their kids.

They’ll share comedian Louis CK’s bit about the incompressible homework his kids are bringing home.

“‘Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?,’” he tells David Letterman. “Or something like that.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This spring Kansas students will take a new standardized test aligned to the nationally crafted Common Core standards.

The test is for Kansas children only – last year state education officials dropped a plan to use the same test as 20 other states. Instead, Kansas is using a new exam, in development now at the University of Kansas.

"So ksassessments.org is where you’re going to find everything we’re working on," says Marianne Perie, director of the Center for Education Testing and Evaluation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This week, as most metro-area students head back to class, there's a fair amount of uncertainty for Missouri teachers who aren't sure what changes, if any, are coming to the Common Core academic standards they've been using for the past four years.

Elected officials have until October to name their picks for committees to review the state's academic standards. And depending on those committees' feedback, Missouri could have all-new standards in two years.

Or, schools could be given very similar expectations to the Common Core.

Missouri parents and educators will take a closer look at academic standards as a result of legislation Gov. Jay Nixon signed Monday in what could be the state's first step away from Common Core.

An earlier version of the bill would have barred Missouri schools from implementing the Common Core. But now the state will use the nationally-crafted math and English language arts standards for at least two more years.

biologycorner / Flickr--CC

The Kansas State Board of Education agreed Tuesday to throw out data from this year's math and reading exams after hackers disrupted the spring standardized tests.

The decision means the state won't be issuing school report cards this fall.

"We just didn't have faith that the data were going to give an accurate picture of where the students in Kansas are in relation to the new cognitive standards," says Mariane Perie, director of the Center for Education Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas. 

bigstock.com

Legislation awaiting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's signature gives state educators two years to reaffirm their support for the Common Core or dump the education standards in favor of state-specific alternatives.

Lawmakers agreed to the compromise last week after debating the contentious nationally-crafted student expectations for most of the session.

If the bill becomes law, educator work groups will spend the next two years writing new learning goals for math and English language arts.

MyTudut / Flickr-CC

State lawmakers are close to a deal that would keep the Common Core education standards in Missouri schools until a panel of teachers can review the nationally-crafted expectations.

Missouri is one of 44 states that signed on to use the Common Core in 2010. But as schools have aligned their teaching and materials to the new expectations, parents have pushed back. They're concerned the standards, which have been endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, will mean a loss of local control for Missouri schools.

A Missouri House subcommittee is considering whether to approve more money for student assessment tests under the new Common Core standards. The standards are designed to implement consistent nationwide standards in math and language arts.

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the committee Tuesday that implementing Common Core in Missouri has not cost the state any additional money, but that measuring student performance under the new standards will.

Old Shoe Woman/Flickr-CC

Common Core is the latest trend in classroom curriculum, but not everyone’s convinced that it’s better than previous plans. For each new education strategy, schools have to change gears and adapt—and that’s easier said than done.

On Thursday's Up to Date, we talk about what makes this plan different and how local school districts are adjusting.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Common Core educational standards were once again a topic at Tuesday’s meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education.

Opponents are targeting the standardized tests used in meeting Common Core Requirements. 

Megan King is a parent from Lawrence. She said the costs of the tests will be too high and will require technology updates. King wants the state to keep using tests developed by the University of Kansas.

Teachers and school district superintendents lined up before the Kansas Board of Education Tuesday to support Common Core reading and math education standards. They argued the standards will help students transfer more easily between schools and create students who are better at critical thinking and problem solving.

Sarah Berblinger is a teacher in the Buhler School District. She said the standards also help build a strong foundation for education.

bigstock.com

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is moving forward with plans to fully implement new standards for math, English and language arts.