Bill would replace national school standards with local ones

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Capital News Service
LANSING– Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, has introduced a bill to throw out a new national set of standards for K-12 education adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010.
His bill would replace those standards with local ones.
Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of standards in English-language arts and mathematics, were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
The national standards aim to give K-12 schoo children the knowledge and skills they need for colleges and careers, and outline expectations for students at each grade level.

States could voluntarily adopt the standards, as Michigan and 44 other states did.
But McMillin said standard decisions should be left up to the state rather than mandated by the federal government, and some states accepted the CCSS to get something else.
“For some states it was Race to the Top money, a reward fund to spur K-12 education reform in states and local school districts. For Michigan it was the waiver for No Child Left Behind sanctions,” he said. “Good standards are based on age-appropriate expectations which teachers know. And education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.”
This is the first year that all Michigan schools are required to use the CCSS to guide their curriculum and instruction.
Kathryn Roberts, an assistant professor of reading, language, and literature for Wayne State University, said that the CCSS reflect the highest standards of the states whose students perform the best on standardized tests, and might benefit students so they will do better in colleges and careers.
“It places much-needed emphasis on writing and reading in the content areas, particularly at the middle and secondary levels, and use of technology and collaboration,” Roberts said.
Roberts said that the essential difference between the CCSS and Michigan’s old standards in literacy is requiring teachers in content area classes (such as social studies) to teach students how to read and write for those particular content areas, which was not anyone’s responsibility to teach in the past.
Another change is an increasing focus on the use of technology. For example, the CCSS focus on writing or producing projects on computers, and drop the Michigan standard for learning to write in cursive.
If all states were to adopt the standard, the CCSS could bring consistency in education across the country, which would be a benefit to all, according to the Department of Education.
Roberts said the core standards are likely to also help close the gap in education of migrant students.
“Michigan has a large number of migrant students whose education has been interrupted in the past by frequent moves from state to state as crops are harvested,” she said.
While it remains to be seen whether the CCSS would be good for Michigan students, McMillin said one reason that he wants to rescind the standards is they take away the state’s autonomy in determining courses.
“CCSS would drive standards first, assessment next, then curriculum,” he said. “I truly fear choice will become irrelevant because everyone will be teaching the same thing.”
Another criticism is that the CCSS would lead to a misuse of money and time designated for schools.
“If our goal is genuinely to improve student achievement in Michigan, we must apply our resources to what will work, empowering and engaging parents and developing excellent teachers,” he said.
“Even as we focus our resources on the right things, we do it in a way that meets the best interests of the citizens of Michigan, not the best interests of the federal government,” McMillin said.
Reps. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, and Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, cosponsored the bill. Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, chair of the House Education Committee, said she is not sure whether her committee will consider the legislation this year.

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