Kentucky officials have announced a new campaign to solicit feedback on the Common Core State Standards. They unveiled a Web portal that teachers, parents, college professors and other community members can use to offer detailed input on specific standards they think should be dropped, added, or revised.
In the Aug. 25 announcement broadcast live over the Internet, Commissioner Terry Holliday issued what he called the “Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge,” and said his dream was that “thousands” of teachers, parents and others would provide an outpouring of detailed, reasoned feedback that would enable the state to reshape the standards after five years of using them in classrooms. (Kentucky was the first state to adopt the standards.) He issued pointed invitations to teachers for their feedback, and to parents, as well, saying he would like to imagine “parent feedback parties” where parents gather in groups to go over the standards.
“It’s very simple,” Holliday said. “We would like for you to read the academics standards in Kentucky. We would like for you to consider whether those standards are placed at the appropriate grade level. We would like for you to consider what standards we may have missed that may need to be added to make our standards even more rigorous. We are asking you to edit the standards in case you think there is a tweak needed.”
Holliday cited two reasons for the all-out push for feedback: the advisability of review after five years of use, and two recent national polls that show that the words “common core” have become politically divisive. He sought to shift the conversation to the merit of the standards themselves.
“National opinion has made ‘Common Core State Standards’ a polarizing term, and we’re seeing that in Kentucky, too,” he said. “People are against it just because of the name. ... So what we need to do is change the conversation from us versus them to focusing on the standards themselves and what our Kentucky students need to be able to learn and do.”
The new Web portal, www.kentucky.statestandards.org, goes live today, and will stay open until April 30 for feedback. Responses will be compiled and shared with the public, Holliday said. A committee that will include parents and teachers will then be assembled to make changes or additions to the standards. Those changes will be submitted to the state board of education, which will consider—and hold public hearings on—the revisions.
Users of the Web portal will be asked to state whether they are Kentucky residents or not, and to describe their “role” in the community, such as parent, teacher, business owner, or college instructor. Users can go through the standards one by one, clicking “thumbs up” if they approve, and “thumbs down” if they don’t. There are also text boxes in which users can type in new standards. For each “thumbs down,” they can provide details of their views and what needs to be changed.
Karen Kidwell, the director of the state department of education’s division of program standards, urged users to provide reasoned, detailed feedback.
“We’re not as interested in people saying, ‘We don’t like it and we want to get rid of it’ as we are in people providing a rationale for why it’s not working,” she said.
She added that the department would especially welcome citations of research, and users’ “practical experience” with the standards when they submit feedback.
“I’d like to see a change in tone of the conversation,” Holliday said. “I’d like to see thousands of parents and teachers—especially teachers—we are very interested in the professional opinion of teachers. ... If this creates a conversation between parents and teachers about what kids should know and be able to do, my goodness, that is the dream of every principal and superintendent of education.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.