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Districts pledge to keep Common Core

MARLOW, Okla. – The battle over Common Core in Oklahoma ended last week when Governor Fallin signed a bill that repealed the math and English academic standards.

But is the war over?

Some districts are saying they’ve invested too much into Common Core and are going to stick with it because it works.

Officials in Marlow say Common Core teaches students how to apply information, as opposed to simply memorizing answers.

Marlow High School graduate Hunter Scalf remembers her first reaction to a Common Core question.

She said, “I do remember thinking I couldn’t do it, because it looked hard.”

She says exposure to critical thinking questions eventually helped her become a better student.

“(I learned to) work it out,” she said. “Do this with it, instead of just memorize the dates of this, or stuff like that.”

Marlow Superintendent George Coffman gave us his own example.

Coffman said, “Look at the yellow dog. What color is the dog? He’s yellow. Now, a Common Core question is, look at the yellow dog. What kind of dog is he?”

Coffman says Marlow paid a company nearly $45,000 over three years to help the district make the transition to Common Core math and English standards.

So he says first grade and grades six through twelve are going to keep the Common Core curriculum.

“We bought the books, we bought the materials,” Coffman said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me to go back the other direction.”

Phil Bacharach, Communications Director with the State Department of Education, says despite the bitter fight over Common Core, state law requires all districts to revert back to pre-Common Core standards, the Oklahoma Priority Academic Students Skills (PASS) standards that were in place from 2003 to 2010.

That is, until the state develops what he calls more rigorous standards than Common Core, over the next two years.

Bacharach said, “We understand their frustration.”

So what if a district sticks with Common Core?

“If that were to happen, we’d have to take whatever measures are available to us,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, we don’t think that will happen.”

“We’re going to utilize exactly what we’ve been doing,” Coffman said, “because it has been successful for Marlow.”

Those who opposed Common Core worried about federal intrusion into our state’s education, but Bacharach said there’s now a chance Oklahoma could lose some control over how to allocate federal funding.

The state has two years to develop new academic standards that meet federal guidelines.