WAVERLY - About 30 parents, community members and educators attended an informational presentation Monday night that aimed to make sense of New York State's recent switch to Common Core educational standards.

The Waverly Central School District hosted Dr. Bill Daggett, president and founder of the International Center for Leadership in Education, to explain why the rigorous and controversial standards are necessary to prepare today's students for college and the modern workforce.

Daggett has assisted states and school districts with school improvement initiatives since founding the center in 1991, according to information from the International Center for Leadership in Education. He was previously a teacher and administrator and director with the New York State Education Department and has written six books about education.

The Common Core standards are being adopted not only in New York, but across the nation, Daggett said. Pennsylvania has begun to implement its own version of the standards, called PA Core.

In New York, the standards have come under fire for their rushed implementation, a situation Daggett compared to the recent rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Both implementations were "less than spectacular," he said.

Teachers and parents are wary of the Common Core's impact on themselves and their children, Daggett said. However, as the gap grows between the skills today's students need to succeed in adulthood and the skills they actually learn in school, Common Core is a solution to an increasingly growing problem, he added.

"If not Common Core, then what?" Daggett asked.

While schools have higher graduation rates than ever, students still struggle to meet the high standards demanded of them by a technology-driven, global workforce, Daggett said.

During his presentation, Daggett discussed a speech at a recent meeting on the standards given by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. During her speech, Rice referenced U.S. Department of Defense studies that indicated that 70 percent of American 17- to 24-year-olds are ineligible for the military - a number Daggett said rises each year.

Aside from factors like obesity, incarceration and drugs, Daggett said two key factors elevate the statistic annually. Potential recruits must have a high school diploma and must also pass a qualification test to determine whether they have the mental aptitude and basic education to succeed in the armed forces. About 28 percent of recruits fail that test, Daggett said.

As technology accelerates, the military must attract lifelong learners who can quickly familiarize themselves with new skills. Those same qualities are required in the current workplace, Daggett said, meaning the same 70 percent who are ineligible for the military may also face trouble breaking into the workforce.

The advent of globalization also poses a challenge. While America educates all children, the system does not promote the academic success that begets the economic success to fund that equity, Daggett said.

According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, American students are performing below the average world ranking in mathematics and reading and only slightly above it in science.

Outgoing interim superintendent Michael McMahon invited Daggett to speak at Waverly after attending one of his presentations this summer. Daggett worked with district administrators and faculty Monday, and staff discussed their own experiences with implementing Common Core standards at Waverly schools, McMahon said.

For Waverly's part, "everything our staff has done along the way was certified this afternoon in our conversations with Dr. Daggett," McMahon said.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.