State Representative Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, said some constituents do not believe what he tells them about the Common Core State Standards. “Ive been on the internet and it’s gospel,” he said he’s been told. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Fremont County School Superintendents met with St. Rep. Lloyd Larsen Tuesday morning in Riverton to discuss the issue of Common Core State Standards and all the misinformation that is being spread locally about the issue.

The topic came to a boil earlier this spring in Dubois at a meeting called by some parents who were concerned about the standards being forced on the state, individual school districts and home schoolers. “That simply isn’t true,” Larsen said.

In discussing the issue with the superintendents, Larsen said much of the talk he’s heard is about are concerns that there are strings attached to the standards coming from the federal government.”That’s what I hear the most, yes, (U.S. Dept. of Education) Race to the Top funding was tied to common core to entice states to look at that,” he said. “However, Wyoming didn’t take any Race to the Top funds and we were not even the first to adopt it; all states around us adopted it before us, and Utah is in the process. There is an abuandance of information (about common core) on the Internet, and however truthful it may be, does not mean it is applicable to Wyoming. I believe most of the misinformation is coming from well intentioned people using resources from the internet that is not applicable to Wyoming.”

Larsen noted that Wyoming adopted only about 70 percent of the common core standards and he said that the Wyoming State School Board reviewed the topic again only last week and, as a group, they declined an opportunity to review or revise the standards.

“They’ve just got to try to get the facts that are accurate,” he said.  “The standards do not dictate what textbooks are to be used, that’s the local school district’s decision.” He also said that he’s been told that if it’s on the Internet, it’s gospel. “I’ve also heard from home schoolers that the state will drive their curriculum, but by statute, we cannot do that,” he said. “The state cannot tell you what texts to use.”

Larsen also shared an anecdote that some people believed that their children would have their retinas scanned as a part of the process. “Again, that is not the case. This story came out of New York,” he said.

Fremont County School District Superintendents from Riverton, Shoshoni, Wind River, Dubois, Arapahoe and Lander attended Tuesday's meeting at the Riverton Branch Library. (Ernie Over photo)

Fremont County School District Superintendents from Riverton, Shoshoni, Wind River, Dubois, Arapahoe and Lander attended Tuesday’s meeting at the Riverton Branch Library. (Ernie Over photo)

According to the Wyoming Association of School Administrators, before the Common Core State Standards were developed they noted that each state created it own standards for college and career readiness of high school graduates, which “with such a variance, a student from one state may be more prepared for the next level, than a student from a different state.” A WASA fact sheet noted that many teachers “took part in writing the standards, basing them on research; surveys to determine which skills are required for college and workforce training programs; data identifying college and career-ready performance; and comparisons to standards from high-performing states an nations.”

The superintendents, who met yesterday in Riverton and compiled a “Myths vs. Reality” fact sheet on the issue, said the number one myth they consistently hear about the Common Core is that it was created by the Obama Administration. “It wasn’t,” said Lander Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Bowman. “It was created by the National Council of Governors and the Council of State School Officers,” which Larsen agreed was true.

Bowman noted that the standards pertain to English, Language Arts and Math.

Dubois School Superintendent Jerry Nolan, who said he wasn’t invited to the parents meeting in Dubois when the topic was discussed, said that Rep. Larsen “had nailed the key issues and identified some of the false stories being circulated. “People are attaching  poison pills that have nothing to do with common core,” he said.

The Wyoming Deparatment of Education web site that discusses the Common Core State Standards can be found by clicking here. 

An explanation of the Common Core State Standards can be found on the web site by clicking here. 

The handout prepared by the local school districts is copied below:

The Fremont County Superintendents

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Myths vs. Reality

June 2013

1. CCSS were created by the Obama Administration

Reality:

• Created by National Council of Governors and the Council of State School Officers

• Designed to allow students to be college an career ready & to compete on an international stage

2. CCSS is a national curriculum

Reality:

• The standards are not a curriculum; they are a set of expectations on which curriculum is based.

• No state is required to adopt CCSS; 4 or 5 states have not.

• Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind waivers require states to have “college & career readiness standards” or standards equivalent to or greater than and did not require states to adopt CCSS.

• Any state using CCSS can opt out of using them if and when they wish.

• In 2011 and 2012, input was solicited and received from stakeholders across the state prior to final adoption by the Wyoming State School Board so the adoption was done very openly.

3. What are the CCSS?

• Rigerous standards in Math, and English/Language Arts

• They are not content standards in social studies, science, health, etc.; however, there is a literacy strand that addresses reading, writing and speaking expectations for these other content area.

4. Implementation of CCSS is going to be very costly.

Reality:

• Districts review each subject-area’s curriculum and texts/material every 5-7 years and adopt new texts; thus, changing to texts that address CCSS is within school districts’ regular budgeting process.

• State assessment of the CCSS will be much cheaper if we go with SMARTER Balanced or PARCC rather than the state paying to create its own.

5. CCSS are dumed-down and borad standards that do not provide specificity.

Realtity:

• CCSS are much more rigorous and specific than the previous Wyoming standards.

• Many math concepts are moved to lower grade-levels than where they were previously taught.

• Reading-level expectations are much higher at each grade-level than before.

• The standards provide clear direction for expectations for math and English/Language Arts at each grade-level.

6. CCSS will remove teaching of literature from high school English. 

Reality:

• By high school, 70% of the reading for high school student should be informational texts; however, that includes ALL that students read in ALL classes–social studies, vocational classes, science, etc.

• High school English classes will still teach the classics, Shakespeare, etc.

• Students will be expected to read “foundational documents,” such as the Gettysburg Address, Declaration of Independence, etc., plus be expected to read and comprehend owner’s manuals, science textbooks, etc. to prepare them for college and/or the world of work.

7. CCSS will not allow the teaching of phonics and other basic skills in reading. 

Reality:

• There are specific standards that require phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, and other skills needed by successful readers to be taught.

8. CCSS will teach the “new math” and students won’t learn the basic facts. 

Reality:

• One of the expectations of the standards is that students will be expected to know their math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables) and be able to recall them quickly and rapidly.

• The CCSS do not compel HOW math is taught; they just provide what students should know and be able to do.

• Math algorithms and processes will continue to be taught.

9. CCSS is a curriculum and stipulates the instructional strategies that are to be used. 

Reality:

• School districts build their own curriculum based on the new standards; the standards do not form the curriculum.

• Teachers select the way in which they teach the curriculum and the standards; the preamble to the standards says, “The Standards define what all student are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach.” (http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/introduction/key-design-consideration)

10. CCSS assessment will require students to provide a great deal of personally identifiable information which will go into a national database. 

Reality:

• The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits use and distribution of personal information.

11. CCSS will not provide any significant benefit for Wyoming students. 

Reality:

• Graduates who have been taught under the new standards will be able to compete against graduates from around the nation because they will have learned the same rigorous standards.

• Graduates will be able to compete on an international basis because the standards were developed after looking at what students learn in other nations.

Developed by the Fremont County (WY) Superintendents (June 2013)