October 30, 2013
PENDLETON — The state’s chief education administrator is at odds with a major shift in the approach to teaching.
South Carolina Superintendent of Education Mick Zais told the Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce today that the Common Core Standards will likely leave some student frustrated and others bored because it tries to teach “all student the same things, in the same way on pretty much the same schedule. More poorly performing students will get frustrated and disengage and more advanced student will be bored out of the their minds.”
He suggests teaching to standards on a more individualized basis.
Zais, a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General who holds a PhD degree in psychology, says different students learn in different ways.
Zais said there is a difference between teaching to standards and teaching the same curriculum across the board. A standard is an expectation of what you know or don’t know. A curriculum is the way in which the material is taught.
“Why I am opposed to Common Core Curriculum is that it is a one-size fits all approach,” he said. “It is a national standard adopted by 45 states so far. It was approved in South Carolina before I came into office.
“Children come to school with different personalities, skill sets and experiences,” he said.
He told the crowd that he flunked kindergarten.
“Teachers told my parents that I was not mature enough either from a knowledge or maturity level to go on to first grade,” he said.
He was held back.
“Did that affect my self esteem? I guarantee you. I have no problem with self esteem,” he said.
He urged all school leaders to emphasize reading.
From kindergarten to grade 4, you learn to read. From grade 4 to 12, you read to learn.
Zais proposes mandated retention specifically for reading improvement for students who are reading significantly below grade level at the end of the 3rd grade.
“If they don’t catch up on reading, they will grow farther and farther behind in school as they go along,” he said. “Will they suffer self esteem issues being retained in third grade. No. They will suffer self esteem issues if they can’t read to grade level in 9th grade.”
In the noon meeting at Pendleton United Methodist Church, Zais also provided the chamber attendees with statistics to show that the ability to learn is not related to poverty or per pupil spending.
“Every child can learn. It is related to the quality of adults in the school,” he said.