Reader's View: Core Standards: Preparing our young people for success

November 27, 2013 

All Idaho students, whether they attend a public or private university, deserve the chance to be successful academically so that they can be successful in life. That’s why we wholeheartedly endorse the successful implementation of the Idaho Core Standards.

The standards establish a new baseline for what our state’s public school students learn in math and English. They will become a better means to prepare our young people for the rigors of a postsecondary education and for the modern workplace.

This is crucial because as it stands now, too few of Idaho’s high school graduates are going on to obtain a postsecondary education. Only four out of 10 high school graduates go to college. Of those, only two are still enrolled after their sophomore year, and only one graduates with a degree within six years.

There are several reasons students don’t pursue an education beyond high school or fail to complete a degree, and one of the primary reasons is that many are not ready for the challenging courses required in college.

Twenty-five percent of students entering a public university in Idaho require remediation in math or English. Seventy-five percent of those who enter a community college need this assistance. Students requiring remediation often drop out because they can’t keep up or because they get frustrated, or both.

The Idaho Core Standards will strengthen students’ knowledge of math and English and reduce the need for remediation.

Although Idaho’s private universities don’t face the same remediation challenge as our public university counterparts, we will all benefit from higher standards.

Forty-six states, including Idaho, and organizations such as the U.S. military have adopted the Core Standards. As the old saying goes, a rising tide raises all ships in the harbor. These standards will help students arrive at college with stronger skills in critical thinking, the ability to absorb and analyze information, and written and oral communication skills.

Beyond college the standards will help provide Idaho employers the highly educated and skilled workforce they need to thrive in the 21st century. This workforce will help our state attract new businesses that value education and strengthen our tax base. Existing Idaho businesses also will benefit from a greater number of the educated workers they need to expand and be successful.

A robust economy is important to all of us in education. It provides the taxes and wages that support an excellent education system. It gives parents the financial wherewithal to send their children to college, whether it is a public or private institution.

For all these reasons it is important for Idahoans to support the successful implementation of the Idaho Core Standards. They will help our young people succeed academically and professionally, and improve the quality of life in Idaho.

David Alexander is president of Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. Marvin Henberg is president of The College of Idaho in Caldwell.

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