• Vermont schools prepare for Common Core standards
    By LISA RATHKE
    The Associated Press | August 17,2014
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    MONTPELIER — Some Vermont schools will open the school year with some revised curricula to meet more rigorous national education standards called the Common Core while other schools are still working toward implementing them.

    “We see it as an opportunity to help our kids reach high standards and to try to figure out how to that,” said Pat Fitzsimmons, the Common Core implementation coordinator for the state Agency of Education.

    “Are all of the standards perfect? Probably not,” she said. “But we’re not going to know unless we try to help kids reach them.”

    While Vermont has accepted the standards, some Republican governors are modifying them, pushing back against what they call the federal government’s intrusion into the classroom.

    The bipartisan governors association in 2009 helped create the education standards aimed at improving schools and students’ competitiveness across the country.

    They were adopted by 44 states but have become the target of conservative activists. Lawmakers in 27 states this year proposed delaying or revoking them.

    At the National Governors Association meeting last month in Nashville, Tenn., Gov. Peter Shumlin called the conservative critics “crazy.”

    “The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems,” said Shumlin, head of the Democratic Governors Association.

    The state Agency of Education has heard about pockets of parents who are upset, but Fitzsimmons said they are misinformed.

    They’re more upset about the Smarter Balanced Assessment — a new test that will be given in 2015 — and have concerns about technology involved and protecting student data, she said.

    “We don’t want to make student data accessible to anyone but the people who should have access to it,” Fitzsimmons said.

    Vermont is part of a coalition of states called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that has created a new test. It will be given next spring for English and language arts and math.
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