Kansas education officials have launched an online tool to gather feedback from parents, teachers and others on the state’s language arts and math standards.
The standards, which have come under fire in recent years, were adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010 and will be up for review in 2017.
Officials say the goal of the new online survey – at http://standards.ksde.org – is to collect public input on the math and language arts standards at every grade level and provide specific feedback to help guide the standards review team.
“Given the fact that the standards have received so much attention this time around – people are starting to pay attention – we wanted to make sure everyone knew they had an opportunity to weigh in,” said Denise Kahler, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Education.
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“We want to do it in a way that’s constructive, specific feedback,” she said. “It’s going to create some awareness and drive some folks who haven’t seen the standards to read them.”
To provide feedback, respondents are prompted to select a grade level and subject area. Drop-down menus show specific standards within that subject area.
For example, a second-grade reading standard requires that students “describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.” One seventh-grade math standard requires that students know how to “apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.”
Click on a standard, and a box pops up asking, “How would you like to see this changed?”
“We want them to look at the standards and say, for instance, ‘This standard doesn’t belong in second grade.’ Maybe it belongs in first grade or in third grade. Or, ‘This standard isn’t written clearly. I think it should be written like this,’ ” Kahler said. “They might say, ‘This is not a good standard at all and should be removed,’ or ‘Here’s how I might rewrite it.’ ”
State education officials use the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards to design tests that students across the state take each year. School districts can choose their own curriculum, but generally align their instruction with the standards.
In recent years, opponents of the Common Core state standards, on which the Kansas standards are based, have urged lawmakers to revise or revoke the standards. Supporters say the standards delve more deeply into subject material and encourage students’ critical thinking.
Senate Bill 67, introduced last month and awaiting a hearing by the education committee, would force Kansas to revert to standards it used before 2010. It also would ban “any education entity” from spending money on classroom materials or teacher training linked to Common Core standards.
The online feedback tool will be available online until Oct. 30. Comments will be collected and evaluated by a team of educators specializing in specific content areas, and passed along to State Board of Education members as part of the standard review process.
“We’re starting our work two years ahead of time, which is a good thing,” Kahler said. “It’s just all about transparency and giving everybody a voice in this.”