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June 11, 2014

Labyer discusses support of Common Core

DUNCAN — Regardless of what teaching standards are put in place following the repeal of Common Core, Duncan School Superintendent Sherry Labyer plans to hold teachers and students to the higher standards set by Common Core.

On June 5, Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation to repeal the Common Core standards, which provided a list of what students would be expected to know before graduating. Labyer said she felt Common Core required more critical thinking on behalf of the students, making them more involved in their own learning process.

“My opinion of the repeal stands,” Labyer said. “I believe Common Core was a very effective teaching and learning method. The standards are standards you can work on at a local level. We were able to design our curriculum if we didn’t find the standard age appropriate.”

The Common Core standards were initially approved by the State Legislature in 2010, to replace PASS objectives. Labyer said the school district will follow whatever standards the state adopts next, but she will encourage her teachers to continue teaching students to think critically instead of reciting items from memorization.

Until new standards are developed, schools throughout Oklahoma will revert to PASS objectives. New standards are expected to be in place by 2016.

She said her concerns revolve around the misinformation people have accepted when it comes to Common Core.

“It doesn’t tell teachers how to teach; it helps decide what skills students should know before graduating,” Labyer said. “Reading topics were more focused. There was more high-ordered thinking.”

Through Common Core students have been required to support their answers to questions with research, Labyer said. She said keeping students involved in the learning process is something she wants to continue in the classrooms.

“We’re going to stay the course with students thinking critically, understanding there are different ways to find answers,” Labyer said. “They should backup answers with reasoning. We’ll continue with more informational text.

“I’m not going to ask teachers to break the law. I’m not going to ask the school district to break the law. If we’re told to teach PASS Objectives, we will. We’re just going to stay the course in how we teach. We maintain higher expectations of teachers and students.”

Labyer said one of her favorite things about Common Core is how student-driven the learning process is. She said teachers serve more as facilitators for the learning process.

She said the school district still has a lot of resources tied to Common Core, and the school district will continue to use those resources.

“We’re teaching students to have critical thinking skills,” Labyer said.

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