Ohio has made official its plan to adopt common national academic standards for mathematics and English language arts in an effort to take advantage of opportunities to partner with other states and also better-position Ohio to tap a few hundred million dollars in federal Race to the Top education grants.

The Obama Administration has made it clear that common standards make more sense than 50 individual state standards, and that adopting common standards is a prerequisite for winning a piece of the more than $4 billion in discretionary federal Race to the Top funding. Ohio has been a participant in a 48-state effort to create common standards for mathematics and English language arts. However, Ohio’s intentions for the common standards effort had been unclear (see here and here).

Ohio Department of Education (ODE) officials advised the State Board of Education Monday that Ohio will adopt the Common Core standards in math and English language arts. State law requires the board to adopt new standards for math, English language arts, science, and social studies by June 30, and board member Michael L. Collins, from Westerville, said there should be plenty of time to get the work done.

The Common Core standards in math and English language arts will be released for review in December and should be completed by the end of January. ODE will then take the Common Core standards language in whole and add, as permitted by the Common Core project, additional language to fit Ohio’s unique situations. The proposed Ohio standards will be available for public review before finally going to the board in May for action at its June meeting.

Stan Heffner, ODE associate superintendent for curriculum and assessment, said the math and English language arts standards the department has been developing are closely aligned with the Common Core standards. However, those draft standards will not be released as planned to avoid confusion. There are no Common Core science and social studies standards, so Ohio’s drafts in those subjects will be released this week for public review and will be adopted along with the Common Core standards in June. Since Ohio’s science standards will be finalized by early next year, they could be influential in the preparation of any national science standards.

Heffner said the Common Core math and ELA standards will be bench-marked so the achievement of Ohio students can be compared with those of other states as well as to students internationally. “We can look at the lessons learned and benefit from the collective experience of other states,” he said.

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