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Speculator, NY ,

Welcome Common Core

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - Updated: 8:52 PM

Dear Editor,

The State Education Department warns the scores on this year's state assessments in grades 3-8 English language arts and math could be dramatically lower than last year. That's because the 2013 tests reflect the tougher Common Core Learning Standards.

SED is basing its forecast on test results in other states, such as Kentucky where scores dropped 46 percent from the previous year.

It's understandable we feel disappointed when we see lower scores. On the other hand, maybe we should appreciate this as a wake-up call for our students' sake. They are the ones that must build a life on the educational framework we provide in our schools. Common Core was designed to strengthen the framework and position our kids for a brighter future.

SED Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz pointed out evidence of fewer students meeting or exceeding grade-level Common Core expectations is "necessary if we are to be transparent and honest about what our students know and can do as they progress toward college and career readiness."

That is the crux of the matter. We are conditioned to view lower scores as failure. We don't like to think that we are less than OK in any way, including education. In fact, our rapidly progressing world will not slow down for an education system that lags behind, and our kids pay the price.

So welcome Common Core. The initiative, being implemented in 44 states, is a starting point to ensure our students graduate equipped to succeed on whatever path they choose, whether it is college, vocational training, the military or a job.

This will be challenging, because the learning standards are higher and emphasize critical thinking and communication skills beyond simple memorization of facts. However, this is what our kids need to succeed.

This will be hard, because all change is hard, and requires everyone -- teachers, students, parents, principals -- to get past a natural fear of change to embrace a new model. But the results will be measured in success stories from our graduates.

This may be exasperating, because lower test scores this year will shine a light on where we are not OK, not yet. But that's not a bad thing. It establishes a baseline for improvement; and offers an opportunity to thoroughly prepare students for their future, the ultimate goal of education.

Dr. Patrick Michel, district superintendent

HFM BOCES, Johnstown


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