Concern Raised over New Student Standards

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Jackson, Miss.
Student standards are more than just the old school reading, writing and arithmetic. But some conservative leaders in Mississippi say they aren't ready to give a passing grade to the newest set of standards.

Common Core Standards are being adopted in 48 states across the country. It's not federally mandated. Each state signed on for the program and the date for full implementation is the 2014-2015 school year.

“Common Core is going to be a good thing for our students," said James Mason of the Mississippi Department of Education's student assessment division. "It's going to be a good thing for our schools. And so make sure you have the right information and right facts when you're making your statements.”

The Department of Education wants to clear the air after concerns surfaced over Common Core Standards.

The Mississippi Conservative Coalition says the system needs more review. It listed several concerns in a statement, including race-based standards.

"If the Mississippi Department of Education intends to evaluate children and measures of progress differently based on race, as it appears is the case in other states, then we simply can't sit by and allow such a blatant discrimination to occur," said coalition chairman, Sen. Chris McDaniel.

But MDE says the coalition is blurring the lines of two different programs.

“Nowhere in the Common Core does it address race based standards," said Nathan Oakley of MDE's curriculum and instruction division. "The confusion I think comes when we look at the flexibility waiver Mississippi submitted last summer. And there are some annual measurable objectives for students by sub-group.”

The waiver was the state's request for an extension on a No Child Left Behind requirement.

It's true that race-based standards exist under that program and all students must be on the same proficiency level.

Another requirement was for a program that would focus on college and career readiness; that's Common Core.

“It has fewer objectives, fewer standards per grade level, but they go very deep and they get very involved at that grade level,” said Tim Martin, assistant superintendent of Clinton Public Schools..

Common Core's central benchmarks are with math and English language arts. But each district determines the specific curriculum.

“We will now be able to compare our students' results and our students' performance not just with students in Mississippi but across the nation,” Martin said.

The costs for the new testing under common core were just released this week.

So the state Department of Education is still calculating what the difference will be, but it expects that will be slightly more costly than what is currently used.