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Cali Owings, Published September 05 2013

ND schools superintendent promotes 'Common Core' during Junior Achievement presentation

FARGO – Business and community leaders who spend their time volunteering in Fargo-Moorhead area classrooms see the connection between K-12 education and success in college and the workforce.

That’s why Kirsten Baesler, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, discussed curriculum changes, the new “Common Core” standard and early childhood education Thursday morning in front of Junior Achievement supporters. Junior Achievement is a group that teaches personal finance, entrepreneurship and work readiness curriculum in K-12.

In talking with representatives from higher education and technical and professional employers, Baesler said she found many North Dakota students lack the skills to be successful after graduating from high school.

In order to address those gaps in college and workforce readiness, North Dakota is joining 44 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting the College and Career Readiness Standards, otherwise known as the Common Core standards, for English and math.

While changes are already working their way into curriculums across the state, students will not be tested on the new, more rigorous standard until spring 2015.

The new standards have received mixed reviews, here and nationwide, mostly because they focus more on application of communication and problem-solving skills than rote knowledge.

Baesler said teachers are “nervous” about the change, but they see the benefit to students.

She warned the audience that when students are tested in 2015, their scores may seem low because the bar was raised.

Until the test, educators will be doing the heavy lifting to help students learn and adjust to the new ways of thinking evaluated by the Common Core.

Students will “cover much more ground” over the next year, she said.

“But don’t worry. They are up to the challenge.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599