Earlier this week, the Common Core State Standards were released. The standards are the result of an initiative spearheaded by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. South Dakota was one of the 48 states that initially signed on to pursue the concept of common standards.
Adoption of the standards by states is voluntary. In South Dakota, that process will run through the state Board of Education.
“Ultimately, I anticipate that we will recommend the Board of Education adopts the Common Core Standards; however, there are a couple of key questions that need to be answered before we would do that,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster.
Chief among those concerns is the issue of assessment. Any time the state adopts new standards, it requires a new test to assess those standards. And statewide exams are costly. That’s why South Dakota has joined a consortium of states looking at developing a common assessment tool.
Oster’s other concern is the implementation process. “You can’t adopt new standards and expect teachers to incorporate them into the classroom overnight,” Oster said. “It’s a lengthy process that involves training of teachers statewide.”
Once those two issues have been resolved, he doesn’t foresee other major hurdles.
A review of the draft standards, done earlier this spring by department staff, found that they align well with South Dakota’s current standards for English-language arts. They also align well with the math standards that the state was in the process of developing when the Common Core initiative was announced.
“The Common Core Standards are based on some of the best models in our country and around the world, so we are not concerned about rigor,” he said. They will also provide for consistency across states and are benchmarked internationally, both of which are important in today’s global and highly mobile society.
For more information about the Common Core Standards, visit http://www.corestandards.org/
Once the issue is brought before the South Dakota Board of Education, there will be another opportunity for public comment.