Nightly News   |  September 24, 2012

Tough standards create buzz at Education Nation

At NBC’s Education Nation summit, the challenges facing students and the nation are enormous and threaten the country’s ability to remain globally competitive. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and the new york public library has been transformed for this year's education nation summit, which involves big names in the education world, including the secretary of education, arne duncan , and former secretary of state, condoleeza rice , this is the second straight year and the need is great. americans are 14th in reading, 17th in science, 25th in math, among 34 countries at the top. this summit's focus is on solutions, one of the big topics today. how the curriculum in our schools is about to change in a big way. our chief education correspondent, rehema ellis is at the new york public library tonight. good evening, rehema.

>> reporter: good evening, brian, the numbers you just mentioned tell a clear story, which is why the nation's governors adopted the common core curriculum. this new, tougher more demanding standard of learning is generating buzz at the summit, as teachers are gearing up to teach a new way. at this elementary school in louisville, all 361 students are encouraged to think big .

>> every day at jba is one day closer to?

>> college.

>> college.

>> reporter: ranking near the bottom on standardized tests , kentucky was quick to incorporate the tests, a blueprint for english and math, adopted by every state. while there is no common curriculum, this raises academic standards nationwide. and for the first time, an a will mean the same thing for students everywhere.

>> so a student moving throughout kentucky will be expected to learn this same thing. and that is important, and students moving state to state will have a common expectation of what they're supposed to learn.

>> reporter: teachers here at jb atkinson elementary school in louisville, will help them imwork with critical thinking . reading books like charlotte's web, children don't just re-cap the story, but like detectives, use the text as evidence to support their opinions about it. math students won't just solve equations. they will work in groups to analyze real world problems such as how do stores use averages to calculate how much merchandise they need?

>> you got kids engaging with the problem-solving.

>> reporter: teachers prepping for common core have a lot to learn before it goes nationwide in 2014 .

>> every teacher i have started working with was overwhelmed at the transition between how we used to teach, and the common course standards.

>> get out your green folders.

>> reporter: still, some welcome it.

>> before common core , teaching was a lot about a tech list. but now, you're really looking at where are your students and how can i design instruction to get them what they need.

>> reporter: a new way to create a common standard of high expectations. but some critics worry that a lot of teachers are not ready. the architects of common core say there could be a rocky transition period. some kids could take years before they measure up to the new benchmarks of learning and thinking.

>>> rehema ellis, not far from where we are in mid town. and stay tuned tomorrow, two exclusive interviews, president obama speaks with savannah guthrie , i'll sit down with governor romney to hear out their ideas on education. it is all part of our continuing coverage on the network and cable and on the web.