Common Core standards controversy - - The News for South Mississippi

Common Core standards controversy

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Student standards are more than just the old school reading, writing and arithmetic -- but some conservative leaders in Mississippi aren't ready to give a passing grade to the newest set.

Although it's not federally mandated, Common Core State Standards are being adopted in 48 states across the country. Each state signed on for the program, and the date for full implementation is the 2014-2015 school year.

The Mississippi Department of Education wants to clear the air after concerns surfaced over Common Core standards.

"Common Core is going to be a good thing for our students. It's going to be a good thing for our schools and so make sure you have the right information and right facts when you're making your statements," said James Mason with the Office of Student Assessment.

The Mississippi Conservative Coalition says the system needs more review and listed several concerns in a statement, including race-based standards.

"If the Mississippi Department of Education intends to evaluate children and measures of progress differently based on race as it appears is the case in other states, then we simply can't sit by and allow such a blatant discrimination to occur," said Coalition Chairman Senator Chris McDaniel. "

But the department of education says the coalition is blurring the lines of two different programs.

"Nowhere in the common core does it address race-based standards. The confusion I think comes when we look at the flexibility waiver Mississippi submitted last summer. And there are some annual measurable objectives for students by sub group," said Nathan Oakley with the Office of Curriculum and Instruction.

The waiver was the state's request for an extension on a No Child Left Behind requirement. Under that program all students must be on the same proficiency level. There are several subgroups under the waiver, including disability, socioeconomic status, English language learners and ethnicity. Another requirement was for a program that would focus on college and career readiness. That's Common Core.

"It has fewer objectives, fewer standards per grade level, but they go very deep and they get very involved at that grade level," said Tim Martin, Clinton Public School's Assistant Superintendent.

Common Core's central benchmarks are with math and English language arts. But each district determines the specific curriculum.

"We will now be able to compare our students results and our students performance not just with students in Mississippi but across the nation," explained Martin.

The costs for the new testing under Common Core were released Monday, so the state department of education is still calculating what the difference will be. However, officials only expect it to be slightly more costly than what they currently use.

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