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Wendy Reuer, Published June 12 2011

North Dakota, Minnesota considering education core change

FARGO – States are adopting a common set of education standards that would put students across the country on a level playing field.

The Common Core State Standards is an initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association for Best Practices that makes education standards the same across state lines in English language arts and mathematics for kindergarten through 12th grade.

“It’s for students that move from state to state; if they move from similar states (those with common core classes), they won’t be upheaved educationally,” Robert Grosz, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said at a recent Fargo School Board meeting.

According to a memo by Greg Gallagher, director of standards and achievement for North Dakota, the state superintendent was expected to approve the standards in May, and the program would be implemented by July 2013.

Teachers across North Dakota were asked last year to review the common core standards and provide feedback.

“They made sure the rigor level did not vary greatly from where we are at,” Grosz said.

Charlene Briner, director of communications for the Minnesota Department of Education, said Minnesota has adopted the Common Core Standards for English-Language arts but not the math standards.

“The current GOP Legislative leadership passed a bill that would have prohibited Minnesota from adopting the math standards, but Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill that contained that provision. I would expect the conversation around standards to continue,” Briner said.

In Moorhead, Missy Eidsness, director of school improvement and accountability, said teachers will begin teaching to the standards by this fall.

Common Core State Standards allow for some variation across states. Schools still choose individual text, materials and curriculum.

“Minnesota did go back in and tweaked it a little bit,” Eidsness said. “For example, there is a standard for education on Native American culture throughout the literacy standards; I don’t know if all states do that or not, but (Minnesota) will.”

Eidsness said she is excited for the standards to arrive in this area, since it will allow Fargo and Moorhead schools to broaden their relationship, she said.

“It will allow us a partnership with Fargo that we haven’t been able to do,” she said.

Adopting the Common Core State Standards is not federally mandated. Instead, it is a choice by each state.

“This was states taking what they consider to be their rightful role in education, and taking it to the next level without what they consider to be the negative aspects of No Child Left Behind,” said Fargo Superintendent Rick Buresh.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530