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Primer on Common Core Standards for Wisconsin

As Wisconsin debates how to proceed with Common Core in public schools, here are comparisons between the old and new academic standards.

According to Emilie Amundson, the Dept. of Public Instruction's director of Common Core State Standards:

-- A Common Core standard is an expectation (a statement) of what a student should know and be able to do by a particular grade level; so the standards become increasingly complex

-- Teachers, school districts and parents build curriculums, buy textbooks and decide how to approach the subject, in order to reach the standard

-- Common Core standards now exist for two subject areas:  English Language Arts and Mathematics

-- Examples of Common Core standard for English/Language Arts:

Kindergarten:   "With prompting and support, ask and answer key details in a text"

6th Grade: "Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text."

Wisconsin's prior standard (same for grades K-12)"Students in Wisconsin will read and respond to a wide range of writing to build an understanding of written materials of themselves and of others."

-- Until now, Wisconsin set specific targets for students to meet in three grades: 4th, 8th and 12th

-- Until now in Wisconsin, school districts decided what skills (and in what sequence) students would focus on, in other grades (outside of 4th, 8th and 12th grades)

Common Core are new national education standards. The Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction adopted them several years ago and some school districts have been implementing them.

Supporters say U.S. students need higher standards in order to remain globally competitive.

Critics, including Tea Party members, criticize Common Core as federal interference in local classrooms.

On Wednesday, the Assembly Select Committee on Common Core Standards will release its background check of Common Core, then vote Thursday as to how Wisconsin should proceed.

(WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The committee recommended that Wisconsin continue adopting yet reviewing Common Core. Some members say the state would be best served by developing its own academic standards but do not call for that to happen.)