I subscribe to the Iowa Department of Education's YouTube channel and after listening to the November 2014 edition, I am thankful to have watched this episode.
Under Governor Branstand's Executive Order 83, Iowa will begin this fall regularly reviewing its state K-12 standards:
The review of science standards will be followed by reviews of the other parts of Iowa’s statewide standards, which cover social studies, mathematics, English language arts and 21st century skills. Each review will follow a similar format.I have a lot more questions than answers about what this means for Iowa's schools right now. Here are a few questions mulling through my mind:
- What impact might this science review have on Iowa's adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards?
- One of the selling points to Iowa educators after adopting state standards for the first time in 2008 (and later modifying math and ELA in 2010 to align with the Common Core) was that districts would be spending less time chasing standards documents and more time focusing on quality instruction. If any of the content standards significantly change in the near future, school leaders around the state can expect to hear an outcry from classroom teachers...and rightly so, in my opinion. How much will the standards change, if at all?
- Will this be an opportunity for our state's science, social studies and 21st century skills to move towards grade-level rather than grade-span standards?
- How might this review process (positively or negatively) influence the movement to create state fine arts standards?
- What will the review process look like and what type of timeline will there be for each content area? (This question will likely be answered in the near future)
- How might this process influence the state's assessment task force charged in 2013 to "study the state’s assessment needs and to recommend a new state assessment for public and accredited nonpublic schools"?
- ...and a likely political hot topic: How might this review process impact Iowa's current involvement with the Common Core State Standards? Presumably, any significant changes to the Iowa's math and/or English Language Arts standards that come out of the review process would require Iowa to change its status as a Common Core state. Why? "To allow for some state-level customization, a provision in the voluntary adoption guidelines allows states to supplement the common core standards with state-specific standards, up to an additional 15 percent," however removing standards is not allows. (Source)