New school testing standards presented

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri State Board of Education held a public hearing Monday to review changes to the Missouri learning standards.

Missouri adapted Common Core testing standards in 2010. During the 2014 session, lawmakers required a public process to draft new learning standards in an effort to ditch the Common Core standards by the 2016-2017 school year.

The Obama administration called for a cap Saturday to allow no more than two percent of class time to be spent taking tests.

A survey by the Missouri State Teacher's Association reveals 65 percent of Missouri teachers said Missouri's current use of standardized testing is "too much."

Superintendent of Seneca School District Jim Cummins disagrees. He said he hopes Missouri does not stray too far away next school year from the current Common Core standards.

"I think the standards were rigorous and were on point. If we need to make some adjustments, that would be fine. I hope that they don't vary greatly from where we are at," Cummins said.

Legal Women Voters of Missouri Education Chair Martha Ott said her organization takes the position that they believe in national standards for grades K-12.

Cummins said standardized testing is a good thing, so long as it is used for the right purpose.

"As educators, I think there is a place for standardized testing. What it depends on is how it is used. Is it used to drive instruction to improve teaching to raise the level of student standards, versus is it used to punish schools. As long as we can keep the focus on improvement, then standardized testing absolutely has a place," Cummins said.

Despite Missouri educators' split on the issue, the new standards for Missouri testing will be used next school year.

During the meeting, presentations were given to the Missouri State Board of Education about the new standards and board members could then ask questions. The biggest change to the science curriculum is adding engineering into the standards and incorporating more hands-on learning through labs. The new social studies standards would have Missouri history taught in 3rd grade, as opposed to 4th grade. 

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Communications Coordinator Sarah Potter said the public can comment on the new standards on their website form Nov. 2 - Dec. 2. She said the new standards should be finalized by May to allow educators to make adjustments over the summer.