OXFORD – The Mississippi Department of Education’s second information session about the new Common Core State Standards drew the endorsement of a key state senator.
State Education Chairman Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, who attended Tuesday’s meeting at the Oxford Public Library, said afterward that he supports the new standards that have come recently under some criticism across the country.
“It makes a lot of sense for Mississippi to move forward with them,” Tollison said, noting that educators have been working on the transition for three years. “All of the states in the country need to raise expectations so they can also raise accountability.”
Tollison said he expects opposition to the standards during the upcoming legislative session but that he thinks Mississippi’s adoption of them will remain in place.
That comes after the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has made statements questioning the Common Core and other states have considered discarding them. Much of the criticism has been tied to President Barack Obama’s embrace of them.
The Obama administration did not have any role in their creation, however, interim state Superintendent Lynn House said during her presentation on Tuesday.
Instead, she said, the effort began with discussions by the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2007, before Obama was elected. They were developed by teachers and content experts with the blessing of the CCSSO and the National
Governor’s Association and were adopted by 45 states, including Mississippi.
The idea, House said, was to ensure that students from the United States would be more competitive internationally. Mississippi schools have begun implementing the new standards, and students will be tested on them next year.
They are designed to encourage more critical thinking and real-world problem-solving. House presented examples of questions on the new test.
“If we want to continue to improve, we have to raise the bar,” she said.
Tuesday’s forum was the second of a series of eight such events the department will hold across the state to provide more information about the new standards. It drew a crowd of 95.