Education officials push to implement national standards

By CHRIS KIEFFER / NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi education officials are developing a plan for installing new national standards into the state’s curriculum and its standardized tests.
Deputy State Superintendent Lynn House said Monday that Mississippi could have a new curriculum framework ready as soon as 2011-12 or the following year and new state tests by the 2014-15 school year.
House spoke on a conference call with state media members about the state’s plan for incorporating the national Common Core State Standards, which were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and released in June.
The standards match international benchmarks and have been adopted by 40 states, according to the initiative’s website, www.corestandards.org.
They are designed to make sure that students in different states receive the same high-quality rigorous instruction. The standards do not dictate what should be taught but provide guidelines for the skills that students should be expected to master in different grade levels.
The NGA and CCSSO released K-12 standards for mathematics and language arts in June. They are developing standards for science and social studies, as well as for children from birth to kindergarten.
The Mississippi Department of Education officially adopted the standards on June 28, and the state is working to use them in the curriculum guidelines it provides to districts and in the standardized tests it uses to measure student performance.
“We are trying to develop an implementation strategy now,” House said. “We are collecting information from all the stakeholders and determining what is most feasible. We’re listening to teachers in the field and principals and will collect information over the next month-and-a-half.”
The department has already hosted one three-hour workshop and will host webinars and regional conferences for teachers across the state.
The MDE has already conducted a couple of studies comparing the new standards to the state’s current curriculum and found that the new math guidelines are significantly more demanding than what the state currently requires, House said.
She said the English Language Arts standards are much closer to the state’s current framework. The state has revised its Language Arts curriculum within the last five years.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.