LYNN HOUSE: Mississippi should embrace Common Core


JACKSON – When an Olympic high jumper wants to reach new heights, he doesn’t leave the bar where it is and expect to meet that goal. To be competitive with other high jumpers, he must raise the bar.

That’s exactly what Common Core State Standards will do. They will set a high – yet reachable – bar for our students. They will ensure that Mississippi’s children are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in both college and career and compete in a global economy.

The standards are not federally mandated. Mississippi, along with 45 other states, voluntarily adopted the standards. The state has never relinquished control of public education to the federal government, and local school boards retain their same level of authority.

The standards were not developed hurriedly. They were developed by a thoughtful and transparent process led by the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). NGA and CCSSO received nearly 10,000 comments in response to the draft standards, which were incorporated into the final standards. Before the Mississippi Board of Education adopted the standards, they were discussed in various public forums and released for public comment. Common Core draws from the best existing education practices in the country and is benchmarked to the top performing nations around the world, ensuring that Mississippi’s students are well prepared to compete with their peers abroad for the jobs of the future.

The standards reflect the real-world expectations of what is necessary for students to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce.

The standards are not a curriculum. Rather, they are a set of goals that outline what students should be able to know and do in each grade in English and math. Decisions about how to teach the standards are left to local decision-makers who know their students best.

I believe that if we raise expectations, our students and educators will rise to meet those expectations. The standards, supported by legislative leadership and adopted by the Mississippi Board of Education, clearly embody what parents, students, educators, legislators and the business community have demanded: an improved education system that prepares students for college and the workforce.

Beware of Common Core State Standards? Beware if Mississippi retreats from its commitment to Common Core. These standards are a critical step forward in providing all of Mississippi’s students with the first-rate education they deserve.

LYNN J. HOUSE, Ph.D., is interim state superintendent of education for Mississippi. Contact her via email at PGuilfoyle@mde.k12.ms.us.

Lynn House