State Rep. Sally Kern urged her fellow House members Thursday not to use national education standards that already are being implemented in many school districts across the state.
Kern said the standards — which specify what a student should know in each grade — are a federal intrusion on state government and should be abandoned.
“The Common Core State Standards are federalization of education and this violates local control,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “One size does not necessarily fit all.”
In the last legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers mandated that the state adopt national standards drafted by the
The standards were adopted as part of Oklahoma's application for federal funds through the Race to the Top competition. Oklahoma didn't win those funds but still adopted the new standards.
Kern said that without the potential of those federal funds, Oklahoma wouldn't have adopted the Common Core State
State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said that is absolutely not the case.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts,” Barresi said. “The common core does two things. It addresses content, and it addresses the development of cognitive skills.”
She said those skills — critical thinking and analysis — are sorely missing from Oklahoma's current standards, known as Priority Academic Student Skills, or PASS.
Barresi said Oklahoma's current standards are “a mile wide and an inch deep.” The new standards will allow teachers to add depth to student's know
How standards differ
She used the example that current PASS standards call for students to memorize and regurgitate the Gettysburg Address, but under the new standards, a teacher could spend three days discussing the events that preceded President Abraham Lincoln's speech and the significance of his words.
Kern agreed that Oklahoma's current standards are insufficient and failing students, but said the Common Core State Standards are watered down.
Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, cited a long list of criticisms of the Common Core State
“There's really a lack of consistent evidence that indicates common core standards even lead to high achievement,” White said.
She said the standards read as though they were “formed by testing
Other criticism focused on the cost of implementation.
Barresi said her department was cutting other professional development programs that she found to be “lacking and ineffective” and using that money to help roll out the Common Core State Standards over the next four years.
She also said the state could use money from a settlement that is being reached with Pearson Inc. for errors in this year's school accountability reports.
The new standards will mean school districts must adjust their curriculum to meet the standards, possibly purchase new textbooks and train teachers. The state also will have to develop new tests.
Some representatives at the hearing Thursday said school superintendents in their districts have expressed frustration over the process of adopting the new standards while still being held accountable for older curriculum and testing procedures.
“I'm hearing a lot of frustrations about the transition and the roll out,” said Rep. Ed Cannaday, D-Porum.