Idaho teachers set out to test Common Core standards

MIDDLETON, Idaho (KBOI) - This is the first year Idaho school districts will be teaching kids to meet common core education standards.

The standards are specific to English and Math. In English they require kids to read more fact based materials and less literate.

"Students might still read Huckleberry Fin but there will be more opportunities to also look at the historically relevant texts that support what was happening at the time.. I think they're not really taking away the emphasis on literature. They're really trying to say is how do we bring a balance to what kids are going to be doing out in the real world," said Angie Young, a Middleton teacher.

The switch is aimed at fostering critical thinking, but Stacey Knudsen of Meridian isn't buying any of it, and she has a binder full of documents against Common Core that she says backs her up.

"When you read an informational text you don't have to infer anything. They're (the author) trying to make it as clear and concise to give you the facts so you can digest that information. When you read a classic novel you get to infer. You get to read between the lines, you get to think about what the writer was trying to say about the society they were writing about. There are several levels that encourage kids to use critical thinking," said Stacey Knudsen who's a concerned parent in Meridian.

Math is changing too. The problems will now go beyond coming up with a numerical answer.

"What they're going to be asked to do is become producers. They're either going to have to perform, or write, or think or share... They are going to be doing something and that's really the biggest change with the Idaho core," said Young.

But Knudsen says it doesn't add up.

"On some of the pilot tests kids that were able to find the right answer their tests were marked wrong because they couldn't write a sentence explaining why they got that answer. So it's penalizing kids that maybe can understand math but don't have the verbal skills yet to explain why. It'll penalize young boys mostly. Boys develop their verbal skills later than girls," said Knudsen.

Soon kids will be pouring through the front doors at Treasure Valley schools, and while Common Core will be in the classrooms the debate over its merits is far from over.

"What we've seen from the Common Core is it's really research driven. They used comprehensive studies for a number of years and really tried to take what's best and apply it to what ought to be happening for our kids," said Young.

"It's really the guinea pig stage with our kids you know. We're just going to test this out and see how it goes," said Knudsen.