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Sanborn Regional Superintendent, Dr. Brian Blake: Common Core cost is low, rigor is high, technology is no problem. ITL the bad bills

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Sanborn is years down the road implementing the Common Core.  Dr. Blake says they have not seen any increase in costs as a result of implementing the Common Core and talks about looking forward to the rigor of the assessment:

Dear Members of NH House Education Committee,

RE:  Testimony in support of the Common Core and related issues.

I am writing this email to share my thoughts in support of the Common Core and issues related to it.  As the Superintendent of Schools for the Sanborn Regional School District, I fully support the implementation of the Common Core and improved assessment practices.

The Common Core is not a new endeavor being forced upon school districts.  We have been engaged in the implementation of the Common Core for the past 4 years.  Given the extensive research behind the Core, the rigor of the Standards, and the need to produce students who are critical thinkers ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, adoption of the Core makes perfect sense.  I am disheartened that the Core has been politicized to the degree it has.  The Common Core is NOT a national curriculum.  It contains the big ideas about what our students should know and be able to do.  It does not dictate what to do or how to do it.  Teachers and districts continue to have the flexibility at the local level.

In our District, we have not seen any increase in costs as a result of implementing the Common Core.  Changes in educational materials aligned to the Core have been reviewed and purchased thru the normal curriculum review cycle that virtually every school district in the State follows.  A “cross-walk” of the Common Core and the previous Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) shows the close alignment of our curriculum with the Core.  In Sanborn, our curriculum is fully aligned to the Common Core and is being successfully implemented at this point.

Opponents of the Common Core report things like “there’s no study of Shakespeare in the Common Core”.  That would be correct… The Core is NOT curriculum.  There are numerous standards that apply to the study of Shakespeare, however.  At Sanborn, high school students participated in a month long, intensive study of Shakespeare in the context of History, English/Language Arts, and Theater.

In terms of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, we look forward to the increased rigor of the assessment.  Our teachers clearly see the value in this type of assessment versus the NECAP Assessments of the past.  Opponents of the Common Core and related assessments tend to find fault with the difficulty of the assessments… Isn’t the idea that we have higher, more rigorous standards for our students?  Another concern with the Smarter Balanced Assessment is technology capabilities of the Districts.  In Sanborn, we have a long history of utilizing the NWEA assessments, which are computer-based assessments similar in style to the proposed Smarter Balanced Assessments.  Sanborn welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Assessment program, as our students are well conditioned to this type of assessment.

To summarize, the Sanborn Regional School District has been engaged in the implementation of the Common Core for several years with great success.   I am concerned that this has become such a politicized issue and encourage that the Education Committee find the bills that seek to delay, outlaw or weaken the continued development of common core based instruction and improved rigorous assessment Inexpedient to Legislate. These include: HB 1239, 1238, 1432, 1508 and others with similar intent).

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at bblake@sau17.org

Dr. Brian J. Blake
Superintendent of Schools
SAU #17

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