Story last updated at 5/28/2014 - 2:16 pm
Did you know that Alaska is the 48th smartest state in the nation? Don't you think we should be higher? Alaska schools have not adopted the Common Core standards. Would you prefer your children to be behind in academics or above the standards? Alaska should raise its academic standards so we are equal to the rest of the United States.
It's not fair to Alaskan schools because we aren't expected to have as much education as the rest of the nation. Willona Sloan, from "Coming to Terms with Common Core Standards," states, "According to the common core initiative's website (2010), the common core standards
are aligned with college and work expectations
are clear, understandable, and consistent;
include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
build upon strength and lessons of current state standards;
are informed by other top-performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
Some Alaska schools don't have the high expectations of the Common Core standards. Our standards limit us, and some students want to excel over others. Lauren Resnick, a leading authority on standards and assessments, summed it up this way: "The tests are not aligned to their own state standards in all but a very few cases. ... Most of the state tests do not test the high level, intellectual demands that we were after when we set up the standards." Because Alaska hasn't adopted the Common Core Standards, our state is holding students back from going beyond.
Not every student wants to be at an OK level; some want to be beyond that and achieve more. Since our standards are lower, people can easily excel over them. For advanced students, they want to achieve more. Willona Sloan gives one example of the higher standards of the Common Core: "At the K-5 level, the mathematics standards provide students with a 'solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and decimals- which help young students build the foundation to successfully apply more demanding math concepts and procedures, and move into applications."
These standards are supported by both the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA). The NGA and CCSSO say, "But those who worry that adopting common standards will bring all states' standards down to the lowest common denominator (should understand that) the standards are designed to build upon the most advanced current thinking about preparing all students for success in college and their careers. This will result in moving even the best state standards to the next level. In fact, since this work began, there has been an explicit agreement that no state would lower its standards."
So many states have signed on to the Common Core Standards, leaders and educators are wondering how to make these standards a really quickly, efficiently, and effectively. It's time for Alaska to join other states in adopting standards that go beyond OK.
Alaska should adopt the Common Core standards. Thirty-seven states have adopted these standards including Washington, California and Nevada. The new standards would prepare us more for what it ahead of us. Some students go into middle school or high school unprepared because teachers only teach their students their standards and not anything above. Willona Sloan says, "At the high school level, the standards 'call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges.' The high school standards 'set a rigorous definition of college and career readiness, by helping students develop a depth of understanding and ability to applying mathematics to novel situations, as college students and employees regularly do,' say the standards developers." By adopting the Common Core, schools would teach us more on what we need to know.
One cannot deny that raising the standards can be challenging to others. Some kids think that they're being challenged now and raising it would make them not understand and take in the new criteria. At Floyd Dryden, we are above the worldwide MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) average. For example, the average world wide for math is 230. By the winter, you should be at 232.6. Our eighth-graders in the fall for math are at 232. By the winter, they're at 237. As you can see, eighth-grade students are doing very well compared to the rest of the world. Looking at that data, one could argue that the standards we are at now certainly are effective. Despite this data, there are many reasons why we should adopt higher standards.
Raising Alaska's standards would make teachers and students happier. Alaskan students would have better education if we raised our academic standards, adopted the Common Core, and excelled more.
Editor's Note: This is the last in a series of 10 essays that ran weekly in the Capital City Weekly. Each year for the past 10, students at Floyd Dryden Middle School compose, edit and pick editorial essays for publication in the CCW. Essays are picked by a student editorial board, and the Capital City Weekly is pleased to donate space for these young writers.
The students who served on the editorial board are Andyn Mulgrew-Truitt (Editorial Board Leader), Gabrielle Scales (Editorial Board Leader), Cassie Dzinich, Matthew Edwards, Mason Fowler, Janessa Goodman, Taia Hadfield, Dang Xue Loseby, Luis Medrano, Cierra McCain, Emily Mossberg, Gray Price, Maxie Saceda-Hurt, Abby Schmidt, Anthony Simpson, Colton Tersteeg, Jillian Tracy and Kasey Watts. The Capital City Weekly does not advocate or oppose the opinions expressed here.