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Common Core: Raising Standards and Tempers

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Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - While it aims to help US students compete on an international scale, Common Core has been raising as many tempers as academic standards.

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Some love it, some hate it and many people simply don't know what it is.

Just like it sounds, Common Core provides a common set of core academic standards in math and language arts.

The goal, even the academic playing field for all American students.

Since its introduction, 44 states have adopted at least some version of Common Core.

But many parents still don't know what it's all about.

Leah Peterson/ Fargo Parent: “Never once did I see anything coming home, saying our standards are changing, here's where you can go to find more information.”

Lori Prokop/ Fargo Parent: “We're just kind of getting entrapped in this federal takeover of our education system.”

But parents and schools tend to disagree about its control.

Missy Eidsness/ Moorhead Public Schools: “We still have the local control to have the how we're going to teach it and what materials we're going to use to teach it. It just gives us those expectations.”

In 2009, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief School Officers came up with the idea.

Both are bipartisan groups representing all 50 states.

But those against Common Core say the members of those associations have special interests in the textbook and testing industries.

Prokop: “I don't have problems with standards. I'm mainly having problems with the fact that these standards are top-down.”

But states contend they can decide for themselves whether or not to adopt the standards. And for schools in border cities like Fargo and Moorhead, teachers say adopting a common set of expectations helps with collaboration.

Eidsness: “I think it will give us some common language to discuss across the country, and that collaboration and sharing how people are making progress is very important.”

But some parents argue Common Core's universal standards will create a one-size-fits-all education.

Peterson: “We have to look at our kids as individuals and not try to make them common.”

Leah Peterson has elementary-aged kids.

And she worries the new standards, which promote critical thinking and reasoning, are developmentally inappropriate.

Peterson: “They're going to feel stressed doing something they actually, physically cannot do.”

But schools in favor of Common Core maintain the standards are always improving.

Eidsness: “We don't want to have our standards low. I don't think anyone would ever want us to lower our standards.”

Public backlash against Common Core has delayed some states from fully adopting it.

In November, parents in several states staged a "National Common Core Protest Day."

And here in North Dakota, some parents would just like to see the entire system overhauled.

Prokop: “There's much more to being successful at that level than having standards. And I think having good teachers; I mean all of what education is.”

But despite some delays, states continue to adopt Common Core.

Eidsness: “I think the expectations do change, but we do need the expectations.”

The developers of Common Core are currently working on a universal, computer-based assessment of the standards.

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