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Mississippi Committee supports, defines Common Core

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2014 13:27 PM

Mississippi's watchdog body, the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER), determined that credible evidence against the merits of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) does not exist. The debate whether to implement the Standards formed around the myth that the federal government set up the Standards as a power grab to take over states' authority to create academic standards for local schools.

Dispelling myths
In a 94-page report, PEER analyzed the national and state policies and procedures of the CCSS. Opponents of the Standards rallied behind the belief that federal agencies developed the CCSS as a means to dictate the direction of education in state schools and control the content taught in local classrooms.

Opponents have expressed these concerns since the Mississippi Department of Education adopted the Standards in 2010, despite continuous efforts by the DOE to increase transparency. Conservative Republicans and other anti-CCSS groups in Mississippi continue to urge the state Legislature to end the implementation of the Common Core in state schools. However, PEER's report clearly defines how and why legislators have no power to alter or override the Department of Education's adoption of the CCSS.

The developers of the Common Core - state governors and education experts - aimed to create a learning environment in which students from kindergarten to high school could flourish and reach higher levels of academic knowledge. They created the CCSS as a means to organize and standardize excellent education throughout the U.S., focusing on difficult reading comprehension tasks, advanced mathematical concepts, critical thinking and reasoning skills, and an overall deeper understanding of appropriate, top-tier academic material.

Defining the Common Core
PEER determined that federal agencies have not made any subversive attempts, subtle or blatant, to wrest control of education away from states. The watchdog group believes that the purpose of the Standards is to stimulate progressive social change by challenging the country's students academically. After studying and analyzing the history of the CCSS, PEER determined that the Standards' primary focus remains on producing students who can compete on an international level. In order to do this, the developers of the CCSS needed to establish clear and specific guidelines as to what students should know after completing a particular grade level, while also raising the education bar higher than ever before. By adopting the Standards, Mississippi acknowledged the need for excellent education in the state and its plan to improve its educational system.