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Common core offers changes

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Change related to the common core standards was the theme of the Diverse Classrooms of the 21st Century conference Monday at Fort Hays State University.

Kansas is one of 46 states that will adopt the common core standards.

Hays USD 489 Superintendent Will Roth told the board of education in October the district already is changing its standards because students will be taking assessments in two years based on the new standards.

The FHSU Department of Teacher Education hosted the conference in partnership with the Kansas Board of Regents and Common Core Institute.

"Everyone has to be part of the growth of our state," FHSU President Edward Hammond said. "To accomplish that fact, education is key."

The old model of educating students in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education no longer works, he said.

Instead, it might be necessary to educate students five or six times in their life.

"Knowing how to learn is critical," Hammond said.

Larry Hahn, executive director of the Common Core Institute in Illinois, was the keynote speaker.

His topic was "Common Core: Why it's a game changer for every classroom."

"There are a lot of changes going on," said Melanie Moeder, a Hoisington Middle School math teacher attending the conference. "In order for us to understand them and really be able to move with it, we have to realize where we're moving."

Only four states -- Texas, Alaska, Virginia and Nebraska -- have not adopted common core standards, Hahn said.

The other 46 states have said students in Hays, Chicago, Los Angeles or Denver aren't going to have a disconnect because states introduce concepts at different levels.

"We're all on the same expectation of what those standards look like along the way," he said.

The new standards are based on increased reading of informational texts, text complexity, extracting and employing evidence and building knowledge toward more critical thinking.

"Our curriculum in the past has been a mile wide and an inch deep. It's about coverage," Hahn said. "Common core standards are fewer, higher, (and go) deeper in content."

In the afternoon, there were breakout sessions for math, English language arts, Socratic questioning, evidence-based writing, and read-alouds and text complexity, led by institute staff members.