Michigan Department of Education: why you should be concerned

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By Rachel Tang
Entirely East Lansing Staff Writer

Tammy Baumann, East Lansing director of educational services, said, “pretty much everyone in education, including outside of education, the publishers, the textbook companies, literally everyone who touches education, has been affected by the adoption of the common core and or the change to a different test.”

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Although the Common Core curriculum has been in effect since 2010, a test for it has not yet been administered. “There are two consortiums that are working on this currently, possibly three,” Baumann said. This includes Smarter Balanced.

Baumann said, “I believe most teachers and administration are waiting on the direction from the department of education because that test is what schools grade upon.”

According to the Michigan Government website, the Common Core are the standards improved upon Michigan’s current standards by establishing clear and consistent goals for learning, and allow Michigan to work collaboratively with other states to provide curricular support to schools and educators.”

On the shift from the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and the Common Core, Baumann said, “there’s just a really large difference between the two of them.” She also said that since the state of Michigan has adopted the Common Core, the MEAP does not address any aspects of it.

“Which is why the Michigan Department of Education is considering Smarter Balanced,” she said.

Baumann said that testing would not occur until the state has decided to change its system and it will not have an effect on students until the Department of Education has decided to implement something new. “However, the curriculum and the way we’re teaching will have an impact on students,” she said.

She said it is irrelevant that we might not be testing using a test based on the Common Core because “when we shift our styles to create problem solvers and reasoners, students will succeed on any test, and it won’t matter what it is.”

Michigan State University College of Education advisor Michael Zaborowski Jr. said that the Common Core would allow us to measure the student’s success and understand where problems exist, and hopefully why they exist. “It will allow districts to understand what measures they need to take to better themselves,” he said.

East Lansing is home to one of the best colleges for education. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Michigan State University’s College of Education as number one in elementary and secondary education for 20 years.

Michigan State University education major, Anna Veskler said, “I think that the Michigan education system is going through a transition. I have experienced the Common Core and it seems to be working for many new teachers. However it’s hard to retrain teachers who have been teaching one way for over 20 years. I can see why many older teachers are frustrated with the new standards and thus not implementing it to its fullest potential.”

Veskler said it was hard spending four years learning something and then going into a classroom realizing that things were very different. “It makes it frustrating and many question what they are doing,” she said.

“I have to keep reminding myself that I am doing what I love and even though it may be hard I will figure it out,” Veskler said.

Baumann said, “good teaching is still good teaching and the common core doesn’t really change that. The examining of the practice of teaching, this cycle has already occurred back in the ’60s or ’70s.”

“This is the same conversation, it’s just resurfaced,” she said.

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She said, “the philosophy of teaching has really not evolved. Its just cycled back to what it was before. It’s always been there, but now it’s really public, very much in the news.”

Baumann said that she would expect colleges to examine their teacher education programs. If are we training them on the Common Core, and are we training them on the shifts in teaching, etc. “That’s the change I would anticipate,” she said.

Justin Paritee, an East Lansing High School Senior said, “our teachers were saying that it wasn’t going to affect us but it would affect the future kids and that they were going to make some changes.”

He also said that a teacher had asked students to come up with ideas on how to incorporate more reading into the class because of the common core. He said one of his suggestions was to “write more essays on the movies they were watching in class as compared to just answering questions.”

Veskler said, “every year is a learning experience and once we figure out what is best I am confident students and teachers will thrive.”

“I think that right now things look very negative but we need to realize we are in transition. Things were changed with children’s best interest in mind,” she said.

“It’s a gradual process. Any change, really takes three to five years to make an impact,” Baumann said.

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