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Legislature To Address Common Core Standards

January 20, 2014, 10:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

Legislature To Address Common Core Standards

South Dakota lawmakers expect to spend a lot of time during the legislative session debating the Common Core standards. There are three bills that'll be taken up this week, one of which aims to collect test scores of students in K-12 to see if Common Core Standards are working.

Some want the rules phased out or put on hold because they say it takes away local control of schools.  Supporters say that's not true because each district has the power to decide how to teach the required skills.

45 states have adopted the Common Core Standards, including South Dakota.  The standards establish what students should know in math and English at each grade level. They've also raised some concerns, so the legislature is responding.

One bill lawmakers will look at this week would lock the math and English standards in place for two years in order to collect test scores.  State Senator Ernie Otten is the prime sponsor of the bill.

"I'd preferred that we would have set up our own standards in South Dakota, but we are where we are within this debate.  I have to have data to make sure what we are doing for the state and for our kids to make sure what we are doing is proper, but at the end of the day in two years, scholastic achievement has to be dealt with.  The only way you can do that is to have hard data in front of you," District 6 State Senator Ernie Otten of Tea said.

Another bill would establish a task force made up of 25 educators, home schoolers and private citizens to evaluate the successes or failures of Common Core.

"The thing that really struck me is I found out that right now little over 20 percent of our kids going to college are needing remedial math and English," Otten said.

Otten says that number is unacceptable. He hopes lawmakers will take a hard look at these bills in order to improve education in our state.

"Scholastic achievement has to be achieved in South Dakota if we are going to have a future for our kids.  There is the key, where we got to focus on and that's what led me down this line, making sure we gather data before we go moving forward with this," Otten said.

Another bill would restrict how student data can be shared.

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