Common Core Sees Success in Early Adopter States
This post was written by: Rod Gramer

The state of Kentucky, the earliest adopter of the Common Core education standards, has been a point of contention among other states looking to implement the Common Core. Kentucky is in its fourth year since implementing the Core Standards, and has experienced far less pushback from teacher’s unions than in other areas of the country since implementation.

Governor Steve Beshear states, “At the end of the day, we put our political hatreds aside. It’s going to be good for our kids and make us more competitive.”

KentuckySince adoption of the standards, students in Kentucky are noticing more project-based work and administrators and teachers share that the standards have become the status quo. While improvement on test scores was slow at first, standardized test scores have begun to pick up after the system has had a few years grow and be fully implemented. Proficiency levels of the tests haven’t quite reached the benchmarks of previous tests, but are heading in the right direction. College and career readiness has increased from 54% to 63%, and fewer schools are categorized as needing improvement.

“It takes about five years for teachers to make the shift and for kids to catch up. We’re just starting to see the gains from higher standards,” said Kentucky’s education commissioner, Terry Holliday.

One of the largest statistical jumps for students in Kentucky comes in the form of high-school graduation rates, which have jumped up to 87% and top the national average. This is an increase of roughly 15% since the standards were put in place.

There is still a long way to go for states that are newly adopting the Common Core Standards, but progress is being made. Based on the success we’ve seen in Kentucky, we can expect to see similar results in states across the country that are taking the necessary steps to increase academic standards.


Source: Wall Street Journal 


In an op-ed with the CDA Press last year, I was asked to outline the Idaho Core Standards and address why it is so important for Idahoans to embrace the Common Core. In this article, I stated:

“Idaho Core Standards is our state’s version of Common Core. Idaho Core Standards raises the bar for students to perform better in math and reading, and also provides tools for all those higher expectations to be met. The standards are higher and so is accountability.” – Source

Since its inception, the Common Core and Idaho Core Standards have become targets due to a number of different factors. Misinformation has caused many of the objections, and continues to be a major factor in the opposition of the Common Core. Without proper understanding of the Idaho Core Standards, it is impossible to see the greater vision and what the state hopes to accomplish through the initiative. Our goal is simple: we want nothing more than to give the Idaho Core Standards a chance to improve the performance of Idaho students.

While support for the Common Core has been strong, inevitably there will be opposition. Those who don’t understand the goals of the Common Core program or are opposed to one facet of the curriculum are raising the flag against the Common Core. In a recent op-ed, Melanie Vander Feer shared her thoughts in a piece titled, “Resolution Against Common Core.” In her article, Vander Feer shares:

“Just a few months ago I knew very little about common core. After learning what it was all about, I have vowed to do everything I can to stop it in Idaho. […] What exactly is Common Core? Due to the fact that it is unlawful to have a federal curriculum, President Obama’s administration broke three federal laws when implementing Common Core. The government’s goal is to monopolize control of the children in order to train them to be good little global citizens. There will be a lack of control by local districts and parents. No one will be exempt: home school, private or charter schools. It will teach them what to think, not how to think.”

This is not what the Core Standards are attempting to accomplish. In fact, the Idaho Core Standards will help enhance the education of our students by raising academic standards across the state. In addition to raising the bar for traditional academia, the Standards also aim to help students improve a variety of soft skills, which employers around the country are looking for. From understanding how to work as a team to improving communication skills, the Idaho Core Standards will help better prepare students for life after school.

Near the end of last month, Michael J. Petrilli shared nine questions for those who oppose the Common Core. The article does a great job of highlighting the correct questions to ask when attempting to identify which areas of the Common Core someone opposes, as oftentimes the opposition is based around one facet and not the Standards as a whole.

While most other states are championing forward the cause of the Common Core, there are some states that have preemptively changed course before seeing how the changes can positively affect statewide education. States that are further along in the process, such as Kentucky, are already seeing rapid growth in education standards and the percentage of students that are accepted into post-high school education.

Let’s give the Idaho Core Standards an opportunity to prove their worth. We will never be able to collectively raise academic standards within the state if we don’t give programs like the Idaho Core Standards a chance to succeed.

Respected Leader Makes a Conservative Case for Common Core
This post was written by: Idaho Core Admin

One of the country’s most respected conservative leaders recently made what he called the “Conservative Case for Common Core” in a guest opinion published in The Wall Street Journal.

William Bennett served as the Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration and has been one of the most credible conservative thinkers of the past 40 years. In other words, he is a true conservative who sees the Common Core – otherwise known as the Idaho Core Standards in our state – as something that should be embraced by conservatives everywhere.

Bennett’s comments are important because across the country – and especially here in Idaho – conservatives have been the most outspoken critics of the Core Standards.

Bennett wrote that all Americans, and especially conservatives, should be able to agree on a few fundamental principles:

  • That there should be common standards to assess how students in K-12 public education are performing
  • That there are “common and shared truths in English literature and math”
  • That there should be a common assessment states use to measure if students are learning
  • That all students should be prepared to become good citizens
  • That all students should be prepared to leave school and compete in the job market

Achieving these goals, Bennett wrote, is the “fundamental idea” behind the core standards which emphasizes “what’s essential” in fields like literature and math, contributing to what he calls a “worthwhile education.”

Fundamentally, he says, this is a “conservative idea.”

Unfortunately, Bennett wrote, the debate over the Common Core Standards has been “contaminated by politics.” He said the Obama Administration made a mistake by encouraging states to adopt the standards through its Race to the Top program because it smacked of federal overreach.

But this “unwelcome and unhelpful” federal intrusion does not erase the fact that the Common Core Standards were envisioned and created by the states voluntarily, Bennett said. Nor does it change what Bennett calls a “basic truth” – the Standards are “good, conservative policy.”

Bennett concludes by writing: “The principles behind the Common Core affirm a great intellectual tradition and inheritance. We should not allow them to be hijacked by the federal government or misguided bureaucrats and politicos.”

We can only hope that Idaho’s conservative leaders heed this well-respected conservative leader and thinker. We can only hope that that they stay the course and let Idaho’s educators continue using the Idaho Core Standards to better set our young people up for success in school, work and life. As Bill Bennett says, we cannot afford to have the Idaho Core Standards hijacked by misguided politics.

(Rod Gramer is President of Idaho Business for Education and chairs a coalition of 31 Idaho organizations working to support the Idaho Core Standards)



Fifth Graders Apply Idaho Core Standards
This post was written by: Idaho Core Admin

Fifth grade students have been using methods taught through Idaho Core Standards for the last few years. From building a foundation for critical thinking and problem solving at an early age, these students can now apply various methods, whichever work best for them, to solve real-world problems.

The video below shows how these fifth grade students apply the core standards to a math problem in just a few minutes.

See how a foundation for education is built at the kindergarten level. 

Fourth Graders Apply Idaho Core Standards
This post was written by: Idaho Core Admin

New standards are being implemented in classrooms across the United State – Idaho has adopted the Idaho Core Standards and teachers are hard at work creating curricula using the standards as a foundation.

Students are learning new methods of critical thinking and problem solving. The fourth graders in the video below demonstrate how they use these various methods to solve a math problem in minutes.

See how fifth graders apply Idaho Core Standards in the next video. 

Third Graders Apply Idaho Core Standards
This post was written by: Idaho Core Admin

Since the implementation of Idaho Core Standards in the classroom over the last few years, several questions have been raised about how the standards will change education – some of which include why the standards teach some methods that many parents haven’t heard of, what students will be learning, and more.

This video clarifies what the standards look like in the classroom. As this third grade teacher poses a real-life question to students, the students choose to solve the problem using whichever model works best for them. These new standards teach students critical thinking skills and new ways to problem solve.

See how fourth graders apply Idaho Core Standards in the next video. 


U of I President Chuck Staben on Idaho Core Standards
This post was written by: Idaho Core Admin

Chuck Staben, new to the role of President at the University of Idaho, says one of his primary focuses for the upcoming years is improving enrollment. The Idaho Statesman asked the U of I President to share his views on the Idaho Core Standards during a recent interview. Mr. Staben explains that the standards are just that – a set of standards, not a curriculum.

Watch a further explanation of the difference between standards and a curriculum:

Kindergarteners Apply Idaho Core Standards
This post was written by: Idaho Core Admin

Teachers have been taking the new Idaho Core Standards and building their in-class curriculum around them for the last few years. Students in kindergarten are being taught essential problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, building a foundation for a successful future.

Below is a video demonstrating what the Idaho Core Standards look like from the teacher and student perspective. These  kindergarteners demonstrate how they each solve the same math problem using different models and techniques using curricula set forth by their teachers based on  Idaho Core Standards.