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Indiana Cuts The Core Without Telling Teachers What Comes Next


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Big news in education today. A defection from the Common Core State Standards. Those are new benchmarks in math and English for kids from kindergarten through high school. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia adopted them. And today, Indiana became the first state to officially drop them. State education officials are now required to write new standards.

As Elle Moxley of member station WFIU reports, this switch in Indiana has some teachers scratching their heads.

FATONIA SHANK: Multiply the one times the one.

ELLE MOXLEY, BYLINE: Fourth graders in Fatonia Shank's Indianapolis-area classroom sit cross-legged, practicing multiplication on dry erase boards.


SHANK: One hundred, you're right, absolutely right.

MOXLEY: Instead of using what's known as the standard algorithm, they're learning a different way.

SHANK: And what model did we use for here?


SHANK: Antonio, you want to show me the regular way to do it?

These kids are knowing how to do it this way. This is 20. This is three, this is 10, and this is three.

MOXLEY: This year, Shank has been using the Common Core Standards, which Indiana adopted four years ago. Districts across the state have already purchased new textbooks and retrained teachers to teach to the Core. But next year, Shank will be expected to use all new standards, ones developed by the state.

SHANK: I hope we're not the island in the middle of the country.

MOXLEY: Even before Governor Mike Pence signed today's repeal, Indiana lawmakers had already voted to pause Common Core implementation. And that left teachers like Shank feeling confused, because those new standards to replace the Core, they haven't been written yet. And she wondered, does a pause mean she shouldn't follow the Core in the meantime?

SHANK: Because teachers have been getting ready for this and some schools have already started because we did it in kindergarten and we did it in first grade. So now those kids, we're saying, OK, we got to pause. So what does pause exactly mean to us?

MOXLEY: And today, that pause became a full stop. What that means for the rest of this school year is unclear. State education officials have until July to adopt new expectations for students.

Superintendent Glenda Ritz says she wants that work done sooner, so teachers leave for the summer knowing what they'll be expected to teach in the fall.

GLENDA RITZ: We have hundreds of people involved in this entire process, multi-tiered. And I feel very confident we are going to come out with standards that we like.

MOXLEY: For teachers like Fatonia Shank, that process can't move fast enough.

SHANK: If we're doing Common Core, great. If you're going to do Common Core and mix some Indiana standards in it, that's great, too. But we just need to know a direction.

ELLIE MOXLEY, BYLINE: As Indiana moves away from the Core standards, backers and critics are eager to point out that the state's new standards, at least at this stage, look an awful lot like the ones they're replacing.

MOXLEY: For NPR News, I'm Elle Moxley in Bloomington, Indiana. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elle covers education for KCUR. The best part of her job is talking to students. Before coming to KCUR in 2014, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award. Her work at KCUR has been recognized by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and the Kansas City Press Club. She is a graduate of the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism. Elle regularly tweets photos of her dog, Kingsley. There is a wounded Dr. Ian Malcolm bobblehead on her desk.
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