Little common ground at Idaho legislative Common Core forum

Wednesday's legislative meeting is spent answering questions submitted by Idahoans.

broberts@idahostatesman.comJanuary 23, 2014 

In a two-hour meeting held by the House and Senate education committees, six panelists evenly divided over the value of Idaho Core Standards couldn't agree on some of the most basic parts of the system now in effect in state schools.

Example: The standards, a set of goals for what students should know before graduating from high school, are rigorous and encourage critical thinking, said Stephanie Rice, an English teacher from Council.

The standards are confusing, said Stephanie Zimmerman, an opponent.

Foes described the standards as robbing school districts of local authority and as a mechanism that will eventually shape local curriculum as teachers seek to make certain kids do well on achievement tests because their paychecks could be tied to it.

"They want that pay for performance," said Bruce Cook, curriculum director for the Madison School District, whose superintendent has voiced opposition to the standards.

Supporters countered that the standards provide a step-by-step progression from kindergarten through 12th grade.

"Where we effect change is on the local level," said Steve LaBau, principal of Nampa's Lake Ridge Elementary School.

House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said he has questions about privacy issues that were raised around Idaho Core Standards and testing. But after the hearing, he said he didn't see any major red flags.

"I think we heard the truth," he said.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408

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