Common Core faces uncertain future

Common Core faces uncertain future

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) - The education standards in Wisconsin classrooms face an uncertain future.

Over the weekend, governors from across the country met for the National Governors Association in Nashville. Education reform wasn't on the agenda, but some Republican governors are calling for the removal of the Common Core standards - a set of math and reading guidelines for public schools.

Those standards were actually created by the National Governors Association, along with some education groups, and more than 40 states have adopted them in the past few years - including Wisconsin. Four years ago, when Common Core was first introduced in the state, Gov. Scott Walker actually signed on to the idea and it was adopted here, although he recently threw his support behind a new set of guidelines to replace those in the state.

So what would that mean for our local classrooms?

The Onalaska School District began the switch to Common Core classroom standards about three years ago - around the same time 2nd grade teacher Jill Knutson began there.

 "Learning how to teach Common Core is probably as rigorous as it is for kids who are starting to learn under Common Core," she said. "It's definitely a huge shift in thinking."

The schools bought new textbooks and teachers underwent new training, all in the name of the new rules. But Onalaska school officials say all that change was good for their students.

"Just looking at what kids know and can be able to do, this has been a positive for the last two years in terms of student learning," said Fran Finco, Onalaska's superintendent. 

But with a political battle raging right outside their classrooms, more change could be on the way. However, like Common Core, a new change in classroom standards would take years to implement - so Onalaska schools would likely continue under the current guidelines even if they were immediately repealed.

"Until somebody could come along and say here's another set of standards to replace them, we would continue to do what's working for us now," Finco said.

That's good news for Knutson, who's spent her entire teaching career focused on Common Core.

"Just in the two years that we've had Common Core implemented, we've already spent so much time and energy and money," she said.

But school officials say more change in the future wouldn't necessarily be bad.

"Hopefully when something new is imposed, it's proven, it's better, it's not just a concept, but it's actually materials that are going to improve what we have now," Finco said.

If there is change in the winds, it isn't blowing anytime soon. The latest legislation to try and change Common Core standards here in Wisconsin died in the Senate this past session, without seeing any action.

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