By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education
Long road ahead for Common Core, but we’re on the right path
In recent weeks, we have seen some pushback related to the Common Core State Standards. Speaking with my counterparts around the country, this is not unusual. Other states are experiencing it, too.
As we move forward with implementing the new standards in South Dakota, I firmly believe that we are doing the right thing for our students. The new standards in English language arts and math are rigorous; they will challenge students to think deeply and critically. They represent a shift from a focus on memorization and testing, to a focus on deeper learning and students’ ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world situations.
Through the Common Core process, South Dakota was able to join together with other states to create a strong set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do in the two critical areas of ELA and math. While we would have been able to do the work on our own, we have a much stronger product because we were able to band together with experts in other states to do this work. Furthermore, in developing the standards, the education community listened to the needs of the business community to create a set of expectations that make sense in today’s world. Ultimately, the standards were designed with the end result of career readiness in mind and should prepare our students for postsecondary education and work in the unique environment of the 21st century.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the standards, how they were developed and what they mean for students. The misinformation ranges from people thinking the standards are part of a federal mandate to the notion that the standards involve some sort of huge collection of student data. Of course, neither is true.
Below are links to several resources that we have put together to help people understand what the Common Core standards are and what they mean for students. In the coming weeks, we’ll also be launching a website geared toward non-educators where these and other related resources will be posted.
South Dakota is well on the road to implementation of the new standards. As a state, we have been training teachers since 2011. Districts also are actively engaged in the work of delving into the new standards and helping teachers understand the instructional practices and strategies that support the type of learning purported through the Common Core standards.
The Common Core is the right path for today’s students. Thank you for your work to ensure that South Dakota students have access to high quality standards and instruction!