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“Common Core” Coming to Oregon

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Local schools are piloting new tests as part of a major curriculum overhaul. It is part of the Common Core state standards, a national set of benchmarks intended to make kids more globally competitive.

Oregon is one of 45 states to adopt the Common Core state standards. The series of performance benchmarks will officially factor into the curriculum starting next year.

All grades from kindergarten through twelfth grade will be affected by the standards. Curriculum designers say they factor in what a student needs to know in order to be prepared for college, and work backwards to measure progress at every grade.

Students will be tested each year in two content areas: English language arts and mathematics. Local experts say those tests will rely less on memorization and more on research and problem solving skills. They also say they will be much tougher than what kids are used to today.

“The common core are much more rigorous, which is probably the biggest challenge,” said Debbie Connolly, the Curriculum Supervisor for Medford schools.

The tests are currently being piloted with input from teachers. The standards do not require teachers to make any curriculum changes, but local teachers say they’ll likely make adjustments once they’ve had more time to learn the new standards.

Experts also say to expect many concepts to be taught at a younger age. Things like advanced multiplication and long division normally taught in sixth grade could now be seen as early as fourth grade.

States are expected to adopt the standards during the 2014-2015 school year. That will also be the first year K-12 students are tested against those standards.