Christie’s education tour: Pilot program using core curriculum standards could spread

CHERRY HILL – On day two of his September education push, Gov. Chris Christie reinforced the state’s commitment to core curriculum academic standards. The Department of Education is partnering with select school districts to implement the first round of the new Common Core State Standards this school year, an initiative approved by the state Board of Education recently.

Christie and Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf toured Sharp Elementary School in Cherry Hill today, one of the schools participating in the new standards pilot program. Sharp Elementary is using new math standards for grades K-2.

Christie said the nationally recognized core standards take the focus off of meeting “No Child Left Behind” national numbers, and put the focus for teachers on improving the students from year to year.

Christie said 44 states are engaged in using the standards, which are limited to only math and language arts.

“Seize the moment,” he said of the national conversion to core standards, “where many Republicans and Democrats agree on what needs to be done to improve our education…Jump on it right away.”

One of the next steps in the education reform process is to engage the lawmakers, “try to get the Legislature where necessary to go along with us.”

Cerf called it a “revolution,” on par with any other education reform going on nationally or locally. “We are out of the business in Trenton of telling (education professionals) what they need best,” he said. “This is not something that we do to schools…This is a collaborative effort.”

The standards should empower educators to assist in planning: “Technology will play a very, very central role in that.” The standards serve as a gauge, not of the knowledge students accrue in school, Cerf said, but of the “ability to marshal that knowledge,” and he said he was proud New Jersey “stepped up early” to join the policy bandwagon. For years, he said, the common refrain was, “Republicans (are) against ‘national,’ the Democrats were against ‘standards.’ ”

Christie said the standards should lead to a more honest education system.

“We’ll know the truth and we’ll stop lying to (the students) and their parents,” he said. “I’m tired of giving out fake diplomas.”

Previous coverage:

State explores possible replacement for key high school proficiency test

  Christie’s education tour: Pilot program using core curriculum standards could spread