Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nicastro: We're not trying to push Common Core...but it has to start with Common Core

The next time Chris Nicastro announces her retirement, it would be nice if it became effective immediately.

Missouri's Commissioner of Education is under the gun again following the opening series of meetings of the work groups designated by HB 1490 to create Missouri's education standards.

The bill was passed as a response to criticism of Common Core State Standards, but many of those who attended the first meetings said they came away with the impression that DESE officials, who were required by the law to set up the meetings, were trying to push a Common Core agenda:

“Typically when we convene meetings or we initiate a process,” says Nicastro, “that means you schedule the meetings, you make arrangements for a meeting space, you make arrangements for technology or video if necessary, you make arrangements for somebody to take notes … to make sure that the meetings can get off on the right foot.”

Nicastro says some members of work groups felt DESE should not have involvement in many of those respects, “and … that’s fine. If they don’t want that assistance then certainly they can carry on as they choose.”

She thinks “confusion” was created by some work group members coming in assuming that the creation of new academic standards would begin from scratch. She thinks the place to start is with the standards that are being used now, and that’s Common Core.

“You always start with where you are,” says Nicastro, “then you decide: is this still adequate? Does this meet our needs? Is this in fact what kids should know and be able to do? Are we asking enough? Are we asking too much? It becomes kind of the starting point of the conversation.”

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