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December 4, 2013

Despite opposition to new school standards, officials say repeal of Common Core ‘unlikely’

NORMAN — Despite continued opposition to new public-school standards, Oklahoma education officials say they are more confident than they were earlier this year that the standards will be fully implemented.

In a national survey conducted by the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University, Oklahoma State Department of Education officials indicated in May that it was “somewhat likely” that the state’s decision to adopt Common Core State Standards would be reversed, limited or changed, according to a copy of the survey obtained by Oklahoma Watch through an Open Records Act request.

The department cited public opposition and opposition from state legislators as reasons for a possible change in the state’s 2010 decision to adopt the standards.

However, Tricia Pemberton, assistant director of communications at the education department, said the agency would answer that question differently now. “We would change that response to ‘not likely,’” she said.

“In the education community, teachers say, by and large, that they like the new, more rigorous standards,” Pemberton added. “They don’t necessarily want to see it changed.”

The department has been helping train educators to put Common Core standards in math and English language arts into practice in the classroom. Agency officials said on the survey that at the time between about half and three-fourths of teachers had received some professional training on using Common Core.

The new standards, which take effect in the 2014-2015 school year, are designed to be more challenging and to improve students’ critical thinking. All but five states have adopted the standards.

Oklahoma students lag behind their peers in most other states in academic performance.

On the math and reading assessments on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, Oklahoma’s fourth- and eighth- graders scored lower than their peers in 40 other states.

Opposition to Common Core persists among some legislators, parents, educators and groups. Detractors say the standards represent a federal intrusion into state and local education policy and will not lead to better student achievement.

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