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New school standards tough but doable

The Douglas County School District has been doing a lot to implement Common Core State Standards in classrooms around Carson Valley, particularly new expectations in reading and writing.

Last week we learned the district was the recipient of a $3.1 million grant from the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program, which will be used to target literacy gaps from early development to high school. We certainly applaud the district’s initiative in winning the competitive grant, but, as always, we take any federal windfall with a shot of salt.

In this case, it sounds like the only string attached is fidelity to the original plans in the grant application. Despite whether more funding materializes after the two-year allocation, we believe the district can use the money now to strengthen its learning foundation for the future.

Combing through the new writing rubrics for elementary schools, which were formally adopted by school board members last month, may scare anyone not familiar with instructional terms. The question has been raised whether students will be able to meet the new requirements. We would remind our readers, though, that the rubrics were designed for professional educators, who are expected to break down difficult criteria into simple terms.

The new standards are indeed tough, and we, as a newspaper, support rigorous reading and writing. With the right training, mindset and leadership, we believe the district will do its part to move the new standards forward.

But parents need to do their part, too. Teachers can only cultivate what’s already been sown. To succeed in an increasingly competitive world, to read and write with confidence, students need a strong learning environment at home. Only then, when all supports are in place, will Douglas County students grow beyond our expectations.