Alaska Chooses to Monitor Common Core Education Initiative
Governor Sarah Palin announced that the State of Alaska has chosen to monitor but not yet actively participate in the upcoming initiative to create nationwide common core state standards in reading and math.
The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers have announced they intend to work with states to formulate standards in English and math for kindergarten through grade 12 by December 2009.
"Alaska's decision not to participate until after we monitor this is based on our desire to spend our time and public resources to improve instruction in the classroom and to form productive relationships between schools and the communities they serve," Governor Palin said. "If this initiative produces useful results, Alaska will remain free to incorporate them in our own standards."
Commissioner Larry LeDoux of the Department of Education and Early Development noted that Alaskans already have spent considerable time and money to develop detailed standards for the performance of students in grades 3 to 10 in reading, writing and math, including assessments to measure students in those core subjects. There also are numerous other standards for the content of curricula and the performance of younger students and of teachers.
Commissioner LeDoux noted that the Alaska Education Plan includes a commitment to review our standards.
"Alaska's assessments tell us useful information about our students," LeDoux said. "Used correctly, the data helps guide instruction and leads to improved student achievement. If standards and assessments are changed, schools and parents will not be able to compare their students' progress to recent years and once again we will be back to square one."
"The standards are not the education problem we face," the governor said. "The major challenges are persistently low achievement among some students and a low graduation rate. Now is the time for the state and school districts to work together to improve instruction and student achievement."
To that end, in this past legislative session the administration proposed and the legislature funded a pilot program to improve young children's readiness for school and an initiative to help struggling school districts build a sustainable capacity to serve their students.
In addition to offering districts technical assistance in best practices that substantially influence school and student performance, the state will employ a director of rural education, who will build bridges between schools and communities, and draw on local resources.
"The State of Alaska fully believes that schools must have high expectations of students," Governor Palin said. "But high expectations are not always created by new, mandated federal standards written on paper. They are created in the home, the community and the classroom."