State officials discuss possibly changing education standards

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — State education officials traveled to Spain Park High School Oct. 5 to speak with teachers and administrators about possible changes in state education standards.

The state of Alabama is considering a change to common core standards for mathematics and language arts, which would be shared with 47 other states, as well as two territories and the District of Columbia.

Dr. Tommy Bice, deputy state superintendent for instruction, said the proposed core standards would allow educators to identify a specific path for students to follow from kindergarten until 12th grade.

“We’ve identified the end point,” Bice said. “This gives them a trajectory to get from kindergarten to 12th grade.”

He said so far, 38 states have adopted the new standards, which the state board of education will consider for adoption Nov. 18.

According to the state’s presentation, the new language arts standards are intended to provide more complex texts for students to comprehend, teach students to move from writing personal opinion on to persuasive writing and help the educational community recognize literacy skills must be developed in all areas.

The math standards would build a foundation helping students understand numbers, operations, fractions and decimals in elementary school, then move to understanding real world applications and data in middle and high school.

Bice said these standards, while close to the standards Alabama now has, would represent an upgrade — primarily because the new standards would demand more achievement and comprehension from students.

“Our state measure, compared to a national measure, compared to an international measure, is way down here,” said Bice, holding his hand inches above the floor. “I know our kids can do better than that.”

He said if the standards are approved Nov. 18, the rest of the 2010-2011 school year would be spent developing a plan to implement them. The 2011-2012 school year would then be spent training teachers in the new standards, and the 2012-2013 school year would be the first year to implement standards.