Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Common Core: Right For Indiana, Or Less Rigorous Than Old Standards?

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, open a statehouse hearing on the Common Core academic standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, open a statehouse hearing on the Common Core academic standards.

A panel of state lawmakers tasked with reviewing the Common Core have opened a formal debate over which set of academic standards Indiana will use next.

Monday’s statehouse hearing focused on the quality of the standards. Subsequent sessions will examine assessment and cost.

Though she spoke at the hearing, state superintendent Glenda Ritz says it’s not her job to select what academic standards Indiana schools will use next. A report the Department of Education submitted last month to the commission did not take a position on the Common Core.

“This was done in a manner so as not to influence the forthcoming process of adoption of standards in 2014,” Ritz told the panel.

Ritz says her concern is making sure the state ends up with the best possible standards. She says Indiana needs to take a close look at its math standards because too many students are graduating from high school in need of remediation.

Jason Zimba helped write the Common Core math standards. He says the new math standards are a step in the right direction if Indiana wants to prepare more students for college and career.

“For example, the study of fractions in American schools has been criticized as the study of round food,” says Zimba. “But in the previous Indiana K-5 standards, the word ‘pizza’ occurs more times in the study of fractions than the word ‘number line’ does.”

But opponents of the nationally-crafted standards told lawmakers the Common Core is less rigorous than the standards Indiana had before.

“Indiana would be better off sticking with its current standards,” says Bill Evers, a researcher at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “That does mean there are not areas of improvement.”

Evers, a vocal opponent of the Common Core, says the new standards delay crucial math concepts and put off teaching algebra until ninth grade. He says state education officials should be seeking input from the state’s colleges and universities on how to improve existing academic standards, not adopting the Common Core.

The commission has to make a recommendation on the Common Core to the State Board of Education before Nov. 1. That body has the ultimate say on standards adoption.


  • Annonnie

    Are we really using the placement of Algebra as a reason to reject common core….its HYPE- in fact the CCSS do accommodate and prepare students for Algebra 1 in 8th grade, by including the prerequisites for Algebra in grades K‐7. Students who master the K‐7 material will be able to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade. At the same time, grade 8 standards are also included; these include rigorous algebra and will transition students effectively into a full Algebra 1 course in 9th …..doesn’t seem as caustic as is made known here…

  • Berin Greenbear

    This looks, to me, like an argument about which third-party textbook publisher will produce the tests that the State of Indiana uses to judge how well it’s schools are doing. Nothing more, nothing less. This is an argument about money, not education.

    These new standards ( don’t look significantly different than the old standards. There is an injection of technology and a lot of money being spread around, but I find myself highly skeptical that the outcomes will be significantly different.

  • Franklin Mason

    I’ve made a close study of the Common Core State Standards for geometry. (I teach geometry exclusively, and have for years.) They are clearly superior to the Indiana standards they replace.

    A few specific points where the CCSS are superior:

    1. The use of congruence transformations to derive the triangle congruence principles. This was always how good teachers did it, but it was done at best intuitively. Now it becomes rigorous. Moreover, this is the way it’s done outside the high school geometry classroom. It’s best mathematical practice.
    2. The use of scale transformations (a superset of the congruence transformations) to explain the triangle similarity principles.
    3. Reliance on a single parallel postulate instead of many – the so-called Playfair Postulate. This is standard within mathematics. Only in the high school classroom is it done differently.
    4. The use of limit-type arguments to derive, among other things, the constancy of the ratio of circumference to diameter.

    I really do hope that Indiana doesn’t back out of the CCSS. They’re a step forward.

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