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Manchester's proposed alternative to Common Core school standards unveiled

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 09. 2014 10:53PM

MANCHESTER — The committee of teachers and consultants tasked with developing the district’s alternative to the controversial Common Core education standards unveiled the fruits of its labor Monday.

The Manchester Academic Standards, a group of teachers involved in the project, used Common Core as a basis, but drew from numerous sources and experts, including prominent critics of the national education benchmarks.

The standards were largely well-received by the school board and Mayor Ted Gatsas, but the presentation comes shortly after state education officials informed the district that it will not be able to get a waiver from Smarter Balanced, the statewide assessment test set to go into effect in the spring of 2015.

Gatsas said this contradicts what he was told by the state education commissioner, and that he intends to forcefully raise his concerns in Concord. His directive for the district to create its own standards was based on the understanding that it would have flexibility in the kind of assessment test it would have.

“We want the best standards for the entire country here in Manchester,” he said, telling the group of teachers that worked on the standards, “I’m going to ask you to come to Concord and fight the fight.”

The standards made use of several principles in Common Core, such as using real world experiences to teach mathematical concepts and placing a greater emphasis on nonfiction in Language Arts courses.

But Central High teacher Selma Naccach-Hoff said the Manchester standards wouldn’t require students to read manuals, as some have charged is the case with Common Core.

“In English Language Arts, students are going to be reading literary works and nonfiction, for example the Gettysburg Address, not how to put together a charcoal grill,”she said.

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