ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage School District (ASD) is raising the academic bar for students.
Last week the school board voted to implement the Common Core State Standards which are the most rigorous in the nation.
Alaska is one of only five states that does not use the Common Core, but the board decided it wanted Anchorage students to be able to compete at the national level.
“We want to compare our district to comparable districts,” said ASD Board President Gretchen Guess. “Seattle, Portland, Cleveland, Austin. Right now Anchorage kind of sticks out in all the Alaska districts. We want to compare ourselves not only in size but demographics.”
ASD has been following its own set of standards, which Guess says are comparable to the state’s. With the Common Core, parents might see a change in how their children are evaluated.
"They may see their child is not as far ahead as we told them this year. We have now raised the bar. I'm a parent of a kindergartener and first grader, the assessment on my child might be different next year but that will be for a good reason,” said Guess.
Lake Otis Elementary’s principal, Dan Blanton, said parents should study up on the new requirements.
“It would be very beneficial for them and their children for them to get a handle on it so they know what's expected of their kids and what's happening at their schools,” said Blanton.
Guess says Common Core will benefit Anchorage students by putting them on an academically even playing field. She said that’s especially important for families who are only in the Anchorage district for a few years.
"We have [a] 14 percent military population, those students are with us for three years and are most likely going to go to states that have the Common Core,” said Guess. “We have to be very sensitive to ensure they don't have gaps in learning either.”
Blanton said with these new standards, there’s nowhere for students to go but up.
“I think Anchorage is moving in the right direction and increasing rigor will do nothing but benefit our students,” he said.
ASD will not wait until the next school year to implement the Common Core. Students will be held to higher expectations right away. Teachers will receive additional training this summer.