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Trib Talk: Is Common Core an upgrade or ‘cookie-cutter’ education?
Education » Utah’s state school board adopted the standards in 2010, but critics want the state to change course.

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That testing is "such a powerful tool. We will be meeting the individual needs of our children," Roberts said. "That child who struggles will have a test that will adapt to that struggling. And that teacher will be able to look at the results of that test and say, ‘Here’s where I can help that child.’"

A student who excels "will have a harder test…So you’ll be able to push that child to live up to the talent and capacity they have."

At a glance

Q & A on the Common Core

Q: What is the Common Core?

A: The Common Core is a set of standards in math and language arts that aim to better prepare kids for college and careers. The standards outline the concepts and skills students should learn in each grade, while leaving curriculum (how the standards should be taught) up to teachers. Most states have adopted the Core. In Utah, the Common Core replaces Utah’s previous standards.

Q: Who created the Common Core? Was the federal government involved?

A: The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers led development of the Common Core on behalf of states. The federal government was not involved in the standards’ development, and adoption of the Core was voluntary for states.

It’s true that the federal government encouraged states to adopt the standards several years ago as they applied for federal Race to the Top money, but Utah did not win that money. The federal government also has required that states adopt college and career-ready standards in order to receive waivers to No Child Left Behind, but to receive waivers states could either adopt Common Core or different standards of their choosing.

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A parent said she has been told her children cannot move above grade level due to Common Core, and asked how that is an improvement.

Roberts responded that it is not true that the Core keeps children from working above grade level.

"We have put the standard in place," she said. "Now it is up to local school boards, local districts, local charter schools, to look at individual children and make sure they’re not holding that child back."

Their job, she said, "is to help that child become all that child can become. And they can use whatever pedagogical – which is teaching skills – and whatever curriculum they want to use. And it is my hope over the next 5 to 10 years that we can bring technology much more into our classrooms, so that teachers will have one more tool to help those children become all they have the capacity to be. And so from the State Board perspective, that’s an inaccurate statement. We want children to reach to their highest capacity."

She emphasized that the board required the testing company it will use to sign a contract that will protect individual students’ results.

But England again urged more local control.

"How do we know what they’re going to do with that information?" she said. "There’s no way to prove they are going to abide by that contract."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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