New Education Standards Pave Way for Higher Rating

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education introduced a new set of standards for Missouri students.

Two years after the initial introduction most of Missouri's school districts have switched to the Missouri Learning Standards, also known as the Common Core Learning Standards.

Some recent media reports state education standards for Kindergarten students are developmentally inappropriate.

An article from the Washington Post said, quote, "In years gone by, kids were given time to develop and learn to read in the early grades without being seen as failures. Even kids who took time learning how to read were able to excel. Today kids aren't given time and space to learn at their own speed."

Dr. Melia Frankilin is the Director of English Language Arts for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She said that the new standards in Missouri do not ask for any extra rigor from the lower grades.
"We aren't asking them to write two page dissertations," said Franklin.

The current standards for Missouri schools are called GLE's and CLE's. GLE's are grade level expectations for grades K - 8 and CLE's are course level expectations. The new Missouri Learning Standards were designed to help students be more college and career ready.

Nicole Winkler is a kindergarten teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary. Blue Ridge has made the transition to the Missouri Learning Standards and Ms. Winkler has tailored her curriculum around those standards.

"By the end of the year the kids should be able to do things like count to 100, simple addition, use decoding methods to sound out words..." said Winkler.

Winkler said deciding to be a kindergarten teacher was easy for her.

"They come in and they are so pure and eager to learn, and that's rewarding as a teacher," said Winkler.

The eagerness was easily seen when KOMU 8 visited the classroom. Children were singing and dancing as they counted to 100 with the counting song. They were laughing and giggling as they named the planets.

Students were given independent time to write their own stories. Some of the letter may have been backwards and there may have been some spelling errors but nonetheless, they were excited to be able to share their stories.

Dr. Melia Franklin said there has been some negative response to the new standards from some teachers and community members.

" There has been a lot of alarmist information out there, but I really don't think people should be alarmed. I think these new standards have potential to improve learning in Missouri," said Franklin.

She said teachers who aren't completely in favor of the new standards, specifically teachers from courses like social studies and physical education, are worried that they do nothing for their classrooms. Franklin said both herself and the Director of mathematics are going to Missouri schools to talk to those teachers.

"I spoke with a PE teacher who said the standards did nothing for his classroom. I asked him, ‘ well do your kids need to listen, and know specific vocabulary for your class? And he said well yeah I had never thought of it that way," said Franklin.

Franklin hopes the new standards will help accomplish the Departments goal of being a top ten state for education by 2020.

"I'm excited about this program, about these standards, you know we're trying to be 10 by 20 and I really think this document can help us get there."