Common Core science standards get low grade from ND parents, teachers


By Rob Port | North Dakota Bureau

LOW GRADE: A survey of mostly parents and teachers conducted by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction found low grades for Common Core’s science standards.

BISMARCK, N.D. — A survey of mostly parents and teachers conducted by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has found a low level of satisfaction with Common Core science standards.

According to the results, nearly 70 percent of respondents rated the standards as “fair” or “poor,” with more than 50 percent saying “poor.”

The survey was conducted from April to June 2014 and also asked respondents to rate the standards on clarity, rigor and how reasonable are the number of standards applied to each grade and school year.

A plurality of 38 percent of respondents strongly disagreed the standards are clear, 44 percent strongly disagreed they are sufficiently rigorous, and 40 percent strongly disagreed the number of standards per grade are reasonable for a school year.

Parents made up 45 percent of the survey’s respondents, while 35 percent were teachers. The remaining 18 percent were school administrators, higher education officials, students and community members.

A total of 90 people responded to the survey. No margin of error was listed.

Among the public comments included with the survey was a letter from Jason Bohrer, president of the Lignite Energy Council, an association representing North Dakota’s coal industry. Bohrer was critical of the standard’s emphasis on human-caused climate change.

“An important principle of science is that the study of our natural world remains largely composed of theories in pursuit of proof,” Bohrer wrote. “As such, it is important that subject matter being presented to students as part of the science curriculum should not be used to teach ‘standards’ in the absence of hard facts to support the conclusion drawn by the standard.”

Other comments, included in survey anonymously, called the standards “disjointed” and suggested they instruct students to “feel bad for consuming natural resources.”

A request for comment sent to Superintendent of Public Schools Kirsten Baesler received no response.

A previous survey conducted by DPI in 2011 under former Superintendent Wayne Stanstead showed more positive results for Common Core’s math and language arts standards. The majority of respondents, 92 percent of whom were school teachers or administrators, agreed the math and language arts standards were clear, sufficiently rigorous and reasonable in number for a school year.

Over 65 percent of respondents rated the standards as “good” or “excellent.”

North Dakota began implementing common core standards in 2010.