Your Ultimate Guide To Common Core In Idaho

A Nampa elementary student working on a classroom computer which will be used to give a Common Core related test later this school year.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho public school kids had a new set of learning objectives guiding their schools' curriculum and their teachers' lessons when they arrived for the start of the 2013 school year. These are the Common Core State Standards. They cover math and English language arts, which includes reading, writing and related subjects.

The Common Core (which Idaho’s Department of Education now refers to as the Idaho Core Standards) was developed by a consortium of states and has been adopted by 45, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories.

Timeline

2007: Informal talks begin between a few state school chiefs on writing shared standards. Idaho's Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says he was involved in the first discussion.

2009: Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governor's Association form the Common Core States Standards Initiative to create a set of shared standards.

March 2010: First draft of the Common Core Standards released for public comment.

June 2010: Final draft released.

Sept.-Oct 2010: Idaho's State Board of Education holds public meetings on Common Core.

November 2010: Idaho State Board of Education votes to adopt the standards.

January 2011: Idaho's House and Senate Education Committees vote to adopt the standards.

Fall 2013: Common Core becomes the standards for all Idaho public schools.

The Standards

This map shows the states that haven't adopted Common Core standards.
Credit corestandards.org

Here are a few examples of the Common Core Standards, these are for kindergarten.

Reading:

  • With prompting and support ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • With prompting and support, identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a story.

Math:

  • Count to 100 by ones and by tens.
  • Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies

Here are some links where you can read all the math and English standards for all grades.

Idaho had standards prior to Common Core. States have been required to have basic standards for a long time. Supporters say the new Common Core standards are more rigorous and will help students develop skills like critical thinking that they will need in college and in the workforce. Compare and contrast for yourself, read Idaho’s pre-Common Core math and English standards.

The 'Common' In Common Core

Common Core is not just about having high-quality standards. Theoretically, states could write standards on their own that are just as good. The common in Common Core is the idea that a third grader could move from Idaho to Oregon or Florida without missing out on learning fractions somewhere along the way. But it’s also about comparing how students in different states are doing at meeting their standards. Before Common Core, states not only wrote their own standards, but also their own tests to measure students against those state-specific standards.

The Test

States are mostly evenly divided in two groups to develop two Common Core linked tests. Idaho joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. While the group that wrote the standards did not take federal money, the groups developing the tests do.

Credit smarterbalanced.org

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is still under development. In the 2012/2013 school year, some Idaho schools piloted an early version. In the spring of 2014, all Idaho schools will give the test to students in 3rd through 11th grades, though some schools may not have to test 9th and 10th graders. This 2014 test will not be used to measure student learning. It is a practice test to help its developers work out the bugs. The final version is scheduled to be ready in 2015.  Take a practice Smarter Balanced test here.

The Smarter Balanced test will replace the ISAT which Idaho has been using for several years to measure student progress. However, Idaho’s State Department of Education will likely keep the name ISAT and apply it to this new test.

Idaho’s old ISAT was entirely multiple choice questions, but the Smarter Balanced Assessment will have multiple choice and other types of questions like written responses. It uses Computer Adaptive Technology so questions will be tailored to how well a student is doing, getting harder or easier depending on previous answers.   

Opposition

Though the change to Common Core has been in the works for years, it largely flew under the radar. Nationally, opposition began to grow in 2012. Early the next year, opponents of Common Core appeared in Idaho. Opposition has been a grass-roots effort and has come from the far right and far left on the political spectrum.

In Idaho, opposition to Common Core has been led by the group Idahoans For Local Education, founded by Boise stay-at-home-mom Stephanie Zimmerman, read what she says about Common Core here. The conservative activist group the Idaho Freedom Foundation is also a prominent opponent of the standards.

More recently, the anti-Common Core cause has been taken up by national conservative organizations like Americans For Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which wants ending Common Core to be the first step in a much larger effort that includes eliminating the U.S. Department of Education.    

Supporters

Idaho’s Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Gov. C.L. “Butch" Otter have been prominent supporters of Common Core, even while the standards were still being developed. Many other influential people and organizations have also come to Common Core’s defense including business leaders and education groups. Last summer, many of Idaho's Common Core supporters formed a coalition to promote the standards called Idahoans for Excellence in Education. You can see the list of members here and read why they support Common Core here.

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Education News

The debate over Idaho Core Standards could be headed to a federal courtroom — with a focus on the tests aligned to the new standards.

On Monday, a group of 10 plaintiffs filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, seeking to “cease implementation” of Idaho’s version of Common Core and throw out the state’s testing contract with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Terry McCombs / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho is doing a poor job of preparing educators to teach to Common Core standards, according to a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

Last week, the National Council on Teacher Quality gave Idaho a D+ grade for teacher preparedness. The average state grade was a C; only 10 states graded out lower than Idaho.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Russ Fulcher says incumbent Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter no longer represents the heart of Idaho's Republican Party.  

Fulcher, a state senator from Meridian, has been on the campaign trail since late November spreading that message. He’s the tea party candidate trying to unseat a longtime cowboy politician he says has a political “machine” behind him.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho school kids in 3rd through 8th, and 11th grades will be taking a new test starting Monday. The Smarter Balanced Assessment replaces the I-SAT which Idaho had been using to measure student achievement for years. Smarter Balanced is based on the Common Core standards Idaho and most other states have adopted. Students in more than 20 states are taking it this week.

Northwest parents of school-aged children have a new acronym to learn: The SBAC.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho and 44 other states now use the Common Core State Standards. But public discomfort with this set of learning objectives has been growing, and lawmakers in several states have tried to get rid of them.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho school kids are now being taught using a new set of standards known as Common Core. Idaho lawmakers signed off on the standards three years ago, but there’s growing opposition for them to reconsider.

We’ll be reporting on Common Core in Idaho over the next few months, but first, the basics. Our education reporter Adam Cotterell gave Morning Edition host Scott Graf a tutorial.

Q: Adam, what is Common Core?

common core, education, student
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho public school kids had a new set of learning objectives guiding their schools' curriculum and their teachers' lessons when they arrived for the start of the 2013 school year. These are the Common Core State Standards. They cover math and English language arts, which includes reading, writing and related subjects.

The Common Core (which Idaho’s Department of Education now refers to as the Idaho Core Standards) was developed by a consortium of states and has been adopted by 45, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories.

Timeline

Idaho Capitol, statehouse
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The 2014 Idaho Legislature kicks off Monday with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter’s annual State of the State speech. 

Lawmakers will look at a variety of issues this year, from the budget to education, all through the lens of primary elections, which come up in May.

Boise State University Political Science professor Gary Moncrief says lawmakers will look closely at a couple of issues: healthcare and education.

A group of conservative Idaho lawmakers wants the state to reconsider standards known as the Common Core in the upcoming legislative session.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Today the school year starts for Idaho’s two largest school districts, Boise and Meridian. Several others have already begun. This is the first year that all Idaho schools will be using the Common Core State Standards.

common core, education, student
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This week the U.S. Department of Education offered states an extension on including tests tied to the new Common Core state standards in teacher evaluations. Idaho won’t take that extension. The state is actually moving up some of its Common Core testing.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Education Improvement Task Force finished a statewide listening tour Thursday night in Boise. The group was created to recommend ways to improve the state’s schools after voters repealed an education overhaul last November.

Thursday night’s public meeting was well attended compared to some past meetings. About 200 people squeezed into the state capital building’s Lincoln Auditorium and 37 spoke. It lasted more than two and a half hours.