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District Urges State to Keep Standards, Delay Tests

In a letter sent on September 11 to state elected officials, the Superintendent and the Board of Education’s legislative liaison expressed support for the Common Core State Standards, but asked for a delay in the new online assessments that are scheduled to begin in spring 2015.

“Clarity, consistency, and rigor are all hallmarks of a successful educational program and we believe continued adherence to the Common Core is the best pathway to those goals,” Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., and Board member Alex Liston Dykema wrote. “A change in direction at this point will move from clarity and consistency towards confusion, hindering our ability to provide the best education possible for all our students.”

Ohio is one of 46 states that adopted the Common Core, a set of standards in language arts and mathematics developed under the auspices of the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Ohio also developed new state learning standards in science and social studies.

Indiana has withdrawn from the Common Core, and repeal legislation has been introduced in about a dozen other states.

House Bill 597, now pending in the House Rules Committee, would replace the Ohio Common Core State Standards with a modified version of standards in use in Massachusetts prior to that state’s adoption of the Common Core. Full text of the bill.

Hutchings and Dykema also asked state officials to delay the implementation of the tests associated with the new standards, saying more time is needed to infuse the standards into instruction and prepare for the technological requirements of the online exams.

The full text of their letter appears below.

The following letter of support for the Common Core State Standards was sent on September 11, 2014, to:

Mary Rose Oakar, Member, Ohio State Board of Education
Rep. Barbara Boyd
Sen. Shirley Smith
Sen. Peggy Lehner

Copies were sent to Damon Asbury, Director of Legislative Services of the Ohio School Boards Association, and Barbara Shaner, Associate Executive Director of Ohio Association of School Business Officials.

I am writing on behalf of the Shaker Heights City School District to strongly encourage you to maintain the State’s commitment to the Common Core. Clarity, consistency and rigor are all hallmarks of a successful educational program and we believe continued adherence to the Common Core is the best pathway to those goals. Our staff and students have committed significant time and effort to incorporating the Common Core standards and principles into our classrooms and curriculum. A change in direction at this point will move from clarity and consistency towards confusion, hindering our ability to provide the best education possible for all our students.

Additionally, we believe the Common Core standards set a high bar and encourage the type of rigor that will be required for our students’ future success. High expectations and focus on conceptual learning will help prepare all Ohio students for the challenges they will face beyond high school.

If the Common Core standards were a predetermined curriculum or a limitation on teachers’ ability to tailor their instruction for their students, we would feel differently, but it is neither. At its base, the Common Core standards simply define what students should know and be able to do by the time they leave our schools. The curriculum and pedagogy we use to reach those goals is still up to each district based on the needs of its students. Changing those expectations now only sets us all back when we should be moving forward.

While we fully support the Common Core State standards, we strongly urge the General Assembly to delay implementation of the related assessments. We believe this would be beneficial for three (3) reasons: this would provide districts and the State the opportunity to assess the structure and content of the assessments; it would give our students, schools and staff an opportunity to fully implement the new standards; and it would provide districts much needed additional time to secure and test the technology required for the new assessments. For the sake of clarity, consistency and rigor, the Common Core should continue to go forward in Ohio but with a delay in the assessments.

Sincerely,

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools

Alexander Liston Dykema
Legislative Liaison, Shaker Heights Board of Education

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