MPS introduces "Common Core" standards to parents

MILWAUKEE -- Changes are coming to Milwaukee classrooms. Milwaukee Public Schools will implement Common Core standards beginning next school year. Saturday, MPS held a forum to explain the new curriculum to parents.

Wisconsin adopted Common Core standards in 2010 but school districts did not have to immediately adopt them. MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton says the district is using a comparable system while preparing for the switch.

Thornton says since 45 states have adopted the standards, it will be easier to see how MPS compares to other districts.

"Now we're in a place as we continue to adopt, where now we see consistencies that I can talk with Baltimore," he said, "Baltimore's system is very similiar to us, Long Beach's system is somewhat similar to us."

School officials say the only drawback might be early struggles for students. But they add, even that could be a good thing.

"You may see drops in scores across the nation because it's not so much the students are doing worse," said Michael Bonds, President of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, "We raised the standards and are saying 'our students can compete internationally."

To make the switch a complete success, Thornton says MPS needs help from outside the classroom.

"What I really would love to see is more parents involved in actually helping us move the agenda along at home," he said, "And utilize these new opportunities to change the conversation they have with their children and more than anything, begin to raise the expectations."

About a dozen parents attended Saturday's forum. Thornton says he would have liked to see more parents but is hopeful for a larger turnout at next month's forum.

The Common Core standards in Wisconsin apply to English, mathematics and many other subjects. But state officials are working with other states to develop separate standards for science and social studies.