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According to Catherine Candisky’s article in the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio is participating in the first national grade-by grade plan for teaching English and math. The goal is to better prepare students for college and a career, as well as to ready them for their later competition from foreign countries.
Many other states have indicated they will sign on to the Common Core curriculum standards, including Kentucky and Pennsylvania. The standards would replace guidelines written by individual states, which vary widely.
Terry Ryan is vice president of Ohio programs and policy for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which researches educational matters. Says Ryan, “The national standards in math and English are going to be better than what most states have now, including Ohio,” and he contends students will know more when they leave high school than they currently do.
As of this time, the Ohio Department of Education has not done an analysis of how Common Core standards in English and mathematics — the first two subjects available — compare with what Ohio is using currently. But agency spokesman Scott Blake states “The content is not a lot different than what we have now. The difference is how we organize it and where things fall as far as when kids are exposed to concepts and ideas.”
The English standards require students to read and comprehend literature, as they do now, but they also put more emphasis on technical texts from science or history. For example, a second grader might read Charlotte’s Web or the Black Stallion, but they’d also read something like Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, or A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder.
The proposed 71-page Common Core for math covers fewer topics than most state standards do, but focuses in at much greater depth. This is consistent with how the highest-performing countries approach math. By the time a student gets to middle school, he or she will have a very strong foundation and be able to move quickly on to geometry and algebra, says Sandy Boyd, who is spokeswoman for Achieve Inc., a Washington-based nonprofit education reform organization.
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