New standards a vital step for education


North Dakota teachers have developed new math and English standards to replace the much loathed Common Core. The new standards were crafted by North Dakota educators and didn’t totally abandon Common Core.

However, one of the leading critics of Common Core, Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, seems satisfied. He expects the new standards will be the first step in moving away from Common Core. Opponents of Common Core thought establishing nationwide standards took away local control and considered it federal overreach. State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler will have to select a new standardized test to replace the exam from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

It’s important that parents and the public care about education and want a say in how it’s implemented. Hopefully, the new standards will ease the concerns of the Common Core critics. Debate can be healthy, but eventually agreement needs to be reached. Schools need an established curriculum so students can move through the grades and their progress can be tracked.

One of the drawbacks to the new standards is their uniqueness to North Dakota. It will be difficult to compare the progress of North Dakota students to kids in other states. The fact the standards are geared toward North Dakota students also is a strength. Educators know the needs of our students and tailored the standards for them. It will be interesting to see the standards tweaked over the next few years.

Education constantly undergoes change. Technology plays a key role as the days of traditional textbooks and libraries fade away. Teachers are finding new ways to challenge their students.

Recently Simle Middle School students were honored for designing a solar-powered charging station for homeless people to use to charge their cellphones. It was a hands-on learning process and they will be able to see the outcome of their work in operation.

It’s also not all science and math as the Department of Public Instruction has plans to integrate Native American culture and history into classroom instruction.

We have to remember the importance and challenges involved in a broad-based education. Our students need the skills to compete in the digital world along with learning our history and appreciating the arts. We’re trying to cram a lot of knowledge into their brains. How we convey that information to the students and how we track their progress is the key to our success.

First, we need good teachers and administrators, then we need a good plan and resources and we have to have parental and public support. Of course, the most important part is the kids eager to learn.

The new math and English standards are an important step in the constant effort to improve education in North Dakota. Everyone needs to work to make them successful.