Asotin-Anatone implements Common Core State Standards Initiative

ASOTIN, WA - The Asotin-Anatone School District is one of the many districts across the country that are making changes to align with a new education initiative.

"Go Panthers!" said students.

A big change for the Asotin-Anatone School District as the 6th graders are moving in with the 7th and 8th graders for a Middle School model. The move away from a Junior High structure is one of the many steps the school district is taking to get in line with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

"The nice thing about the common core to us is that you're going more in depth into the standards rather than covering a whole bunch at the surface level," said Asotin-Anatone Superintendent Dale Bonfield.

The initiative, penned by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, has been adopted by 45 states according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website. And Superintendent Dale Bonfield said the standards set national English and math benchmarks for students.

"If the standards stay the same and we know the target, it will be a lot easier for our teachers and students to reach those goals because we know what we're shooting for and we know what's expected of us to teach," said Bonfield.

Opponents of the common core initiative, including some republican lawmakers say it's a step back for local control over education and a 'one-size-fits-all' standardized system.

And while Bonfield is enthusiastic about the changes and the program, he says some vocational programs may not be prioritized.

"There's a lot of jobs or trade school opportunities students might want to seek as well," said Bonfield. "So by limiting some of our vocational opportunities we're limiting pathways for kids instead of opening up pathways for students."

However, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Jessica Vavrus of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for Washington State said the initiative doesn't exclude slower learning students, by asking the school districts to take a close look at the professional development opportunities they provide for their teachers.

"How are they building the capacity supporting time for all teachers to learn together and to collaborate around student learning," said Vavrus.

Bonfield said the middle school model starts the 2014-2015 school year.

Virginia, Alaska, Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota are the five states listed on the common core's website that are currently not adopting the initiative.