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School District urged to use caution on national standards

JUNEAU -- The chairman of the House Education Committee urged the Anchorage School Board to go slow in deciding whether to adopt new national standards for its core curriculum.

"I'm saying we really shouldn't lunge forward," Rep. Alan Dick, R-Stony River, told reporters Monday at the regular news briefing of the House majority coalition. "I'm not telling Anchorage what to do at all but I'm asking them that they make a well-informed decision when they do make a decision."

While acknowledging that the state's education system needs to be reformed, Dick said the National Common Core State Standards Initiative may not be the answer. He cited a recent Brookings Institution report that suggested the standards weren't as effective as advertised. He said he sent copies of the Brookings report to all the members of the School Board.

Outgoing Anchorage schools Superintendent Carol Comeau, who helped create the initiative while serving on a national education organization, is urging the district to adopt the standards. She said the initiative provides tougher standards in math and English language arts than comparable state standards now under development. The initiative would also provide greater accountability, she said, because assessments and testing will be available in about two years, while the state has not yet said when it would begin its assessments.

Though the standards were only released in June 2010, they have already been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Brookings Institution report.

The Anchorage School Board is expected to take up adoption of the Common Core standards Thursday.

Anchorage Daily News /