Not everyone is happy with the new Common Core standards that will be taught in Ohio this year.
“As you can see, education is changing dramatically,” Amherst school board president Ron Yacobozzi said in a July 14 meeting. “We have to adapt to it whether we like it or not. We are being mandated.”
“We’re not here to debate whether it’s right, wrong, or indifferent for our district,” he said.
Here are the perspectives:
• Colleges and universities see many freshmen enroll who are unprepared for basic courses. Those students end up taking remedial classes.
• Opponents say states will lose control over what is taught. Some fear the Common Core is the first step toward national control over curriculum.
• Over the past two decades, the United States has sunk in international education rankings.
Michael Molnar, who heads educational services for the Amherst Schools, called the new standard “a very politicized item.”
He tried to speak only to the facts as he explained the core to board of education members.
Changes that will be seen here include limiting review at the beginning of each year and focusing on new material, teaching to a higher reading level, making learned skills and information relevant across subjects, and teaching kids to use tools strategically.
Teachers will also have a new level of accountability.
The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System will “grade” them on two 30-minute observations per year, a professional growth plan, adminstrator walk-throughs, and how well students do on their exams.
“The fortunate thing is we have excellent teachers,” Molnar said.
Good teachers know how to teach effectively regardless of the goals they have, he said.
Maranda Cluff is the mother of two Amherst students.
She said she’s “on a rampage against Common Core” due to concerns that it will not help her children.
Similar revamping of curriculum in the 1990s failed because teachers put all their effort and attention into getting kids through standardized tests, she said, asking the Amherst board how it plans to avoid falling into the same pitfall.
Yacabozzi said teachers don’t want to “teach to the test” but they will use practice tests to help become more acclimated to the core.
As a young man, he hated taking tests and said he empathizes with those who learn by other methods.
That doesn’t mean Amherst can turn its back on the Common Core, though.
“We just can’t say to the state of Ohio, ‘Goodbye, we’re not going to do this,’” Yacabozzi said. “We’re doing our best. We don’t have all the answers.”
“This is something that has come from on high,” he said, urging angry parents to write to state legislators to seek change.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or on Twitter at @EditorHawk.