Column: Hearing on new standards coming

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education Dr. Cheri Pierson Yecke will be at the Albert Lea High School auditorium Wednesday night, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m.

The purpose of her visit is to describe the standards setting process for new Science and Social Studies Standards K-12 for the state’s public schools. At each of the hearings she will receive comments and suggestions for the revision of the first draft of these new standards.

This is the last statewide public hearing the commissioner will have for these standards. It is important that citizens attend the hearing and learn about the standards. Citizens can ask any questions or concerns they have about what is taught in Minnesota in science and social studies K-12. Other citizens from around our state have submitted their ideas for revisions on the state department’s website. People can check out that website ahead of time to read a copy of the current proposed draft of the science and/or social studies standards. They can also read the comments that have already been collected. That address is There is a direct link to information about the science and social studies standards, including names of the members of the commissioner’s committees and the timeline, as well as the standards and comments.

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After this meeting, the commissioner will call together the citizens who created the current draft of each set of standards. The committees will identify a “writing team.” That team will take the current draft of their standards, consider the comments from public hearings and develop a second draft of the standards. The Commissioner will receive this second draft in late November and then send it on to national experts. State legislators will eventually approve a final set of K-12 science and social studies standards as law before the end of this school year.

At the high school level, the Legislature has already changed the credit requirements for graduation. Albert Lea High School will add a third year of science to its graduation requirements. In social studies, we already require four years. We currently offer world history and geography, U.S. history, U.S. government and citizenship, and economics. The Legislature last year specified a full year of geography, so ALHS is checking out whether the geography as they currently teach it will meet the new requirements.

Albert Lea Area Schools are pleased to host this public hearing. We want our community members involved in this important dialogue about how state expectations impact our local schools. We have always focused our efforts on teaching the best curriculum our research has identified. Equipping students to learn, to achieve, and to care is our mission. We have always worked from standards that help us with that goal. We hope these new standards will continue to help us help all students achieve to their greatest potential and be prepared to meet the real world challenges they will face upon graduation.

(Judy Knutson is the director of curriculum for Albert Lea Area Schools.)