Falling test scores cause some to point fingers at new curriculum in Kansas

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Test scores have fallen among students in Kansas. Some think they know why.

Students in the Shawnee Mission School District and across the state are struggling to adapt to the new Common Core standards. This is the first year they’ve been implemented, and while some are worried about this drop in performance, educators are preaching patience as students adapt to a different way of learning.

This is the first year teachers in Kansas are using Common Core standards. They were created in 2010 and 45 states, including Kansas and Missouri, have adopted them.

Common Core standards focus on critical thinking and reasoning skills. So instead of asking, what is 3X4, it asks, if Suzy, Bill and Mary all have four apples, how many would they have if they put them all together.

Supporters say it will better prepare kids for college, but opponents argue the material is dry, and the one nationwide curriculum is not good for all students. They want local districts to have more control over what is taught to their children. Opponents will most likely use the latest test scores to justify their argument.

In reading, scores statewide fell by two percent. In math they fell seven percent. Science scores rose slightly, though it’s not under the common core umbrella.

The Fordham Foundation, an Ohio based nonprofit that supports education, found Common Core standards to be more rigorous than the past standards and urge states to be patient as the kids get used to the new tests, believing scores will go up as they adjust.

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