Update on Common Core Status in the States: Part Three
This post is the last in a series of three on the state of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) across the nation. Now that states have hastily Raced to the US Department of Education in chasing US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s dangled (albeit insufficient) millions, many have entered the phase I call Move to the Sidelines to Consider the CCSS Cost and How to Proceed.
In writing these posts, I focused upon recent decisions by governors and legislatures regarding CCSS rebranding, delay, and prohibition. My first post involves CCSS response in twelve states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas (a federal bill), Kentucky, and South Carolina.
Also included in the first post is a US Senate resolution against CCSS.
My second post also includes information on twelve states: Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Finally, this third post has CCSS status information for six states: Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
And now, let us embark upon this third “state-led” installment of the state of CCSS in the states.
Oklahoma’s Seven-bill Determination to End CCSS
Five Common Core bills have been filed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and two bills have been filed in the Oklahoma Senate. Two of the bills in the Oklahoma House are repeal bills. They delete the one paragraph in SB2033 that made the Common Core law in Oklahoma. The first bill is HB 2786 authored by State Representative Jadine Nollan. The second bill is HB 2849 authored by State Representative Dan Fisher.
State Senator Eddie Fields authored two bills in the Oklahoma Senate. The first bill is SB 1146 which is a a repeal bill that also includes direction to the State Board of Education to remove all alignment in the standards to the Common Core, stop Common Core assessments and require the state board to revise their agreement with the feds that will allow Oklahoma to get out from under the standards.
The other bill, SB 1310, would establish a task force the purpose of which would be to “review curricular standards approved by the State Board of Education and make recommendations to the Legislature regarding new curricular standards.”
HB 3331 was authored by Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon and it prevents the Oklahoma Department of Education from entering into any agreements with the Federal government that would align Oklahoma standards to the Common Core – directs the Department to amend any agreements with the feds so that Oklahoma may be released from using the Common Core standards. It is similar to SB 1146.
State Representative Gus Blackwell authored HB 3166 which repeals the standards and then puts in place the “Local Curriculum Standards Pilot Program” in which ANY school district could adopt their own standards (even if they do not align with state standards) for five years. After that time, there will be a comparison made among schools using the state standards and those using their own local standards using standardized, criterion-referenced tests.
State Representative Jason Nelson authored HB 3399 prevents federal control over state standards. It requires any agency using federal money or programming – including those collecting data on students – to amend existing agreements to extricate themselves from any agreements that would cede control over K-12 education from outside the state. This bill would not repeal the Common Core, but instead, puts the standards on ‘pause’ for a full year during which the state assessments will reflect PASS and not CC. It directs the state board to examine the English/LA and math standards, and then compare them with PASS in 9 different areas. A written review of the comparison must be submitted to the House, Senate and Governor for their own review.
Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education said that repealing the Common Core is the priority, but if those bills get stuck in the Oklahoma Senate Education Committee because of Senator John Ford blocking repeal bills in his committee then Nelson’s bill would be a good fall back bill.
Pennsylvania Core Standards will replace the state’s current academic standards, which differ from the Common Core Standards adopted by other states.
National Common Core Standards address only English/language arts and math, incorporating reading and writing in other subjects like social studies under English/language arts. Pennsylvania’s standards will encompass various subject areas in addition to English/language arts and math.
The Pennsylvania Core Standards also reject the standardized tests on Common Core currently being developed by two national groups. Pennsylvania will test students’ knowledge and understanding of our new academic standards using revised PSSA tests in grades 3-8 and Keystone Exams for Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. Exams in other subjects will be developed in the future if funds are available.
Rep. Gregg Amore of East Providence, a teacher at East Providence High School, submitted a bill (2014-H 7095) last week to “create a task force to evaluate the system so students, teachers, parents and administrators can – at the very least – fully understand the implications of the new system.”
“Until we have all the facts in front of us and know what we’re getting ourselves into, we should not be holding anyone accountable through this system,” said Amore. “No one has a clear picture of how much the Common Core objectives will cost our districts overall.”
The legislation has asked that a 20-member panel, including Education Commissioner Debra Gist or a designee, evaluate Common Core and the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment and Readiness for College and Careers) assessment test that goes with it over the next year.
“I’m trying to cut the head off the snake,” said Rep. Gregg Amore of East Providence, a high school history teacher, who introduced the bill. “If we delay the PARCC, it will die.” …
Amore said his legislation, which will be given a hearing the week after the February break, is an attempt “to shine light on this.” He said a similar bill has been introduced in the State Senate.
“Urban districts are going to be killed by this,” Amore said. “It is already causing great chaos. We’re trying to bring the state Board of Education to its senses.”
“The (PARCC) test will drive the instruction,” he said. “This is the best sales job I’ve ever seen except at war time. This education policy is so misguided. But we have to get this bill to the floor first.”
Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, a retired teacher who has criticized the standards for several years, said he and other lawmakers will introduce bills in the legislative session starting Tuesday that seek to limit or even scrap Common Core.
The effort will include proposals to phase out the standards over several years, put the brakes on the standards pending additional study, allow parents to exempt their children from testing and prevent information on individual students from being given to the federal government.
“Fundamentally, it goes against the basic principle of American education, which is that local people who pay local taxes to support their local schools are going to be cut out of the educational process. They’re going to lose control of their local school,” Bolin said. …
Worries about Common Core are growing nationwide, Bolin said. He said he’s been fighting Common Core for several years, but other South Dakota lawmakers are joining him.
“I just have a few more allies now,” Bolin said.
Despite the fact that the West Virginia Legislature was not involved in the initial Common Core discussion and implementation, members are beginning to try to make their voices heard on the issue.
That voice is echoed in House Bill 4383 and House Bill 4390.
The overarching theme of both bills is to put a halt to the current implementation of West Virginia’s Next Generation Content Standards, West Virginia’s name for Common Core curriculum.
Not only were the Common Core standards adopted in many states through Race to the Top program funding, but also through states’ acceptance of No Child Left Behind waivers.
Looking at House Bill 4383
House Bill 4383 attempts to slow down the implementation of Common Core standards and keep people informed throughout the process.
According to the bill, a “Legislative Common Core Study Committee would be established to study issues relating to the implementation of Common Core standards and assessments in West Virginia and report to the Governor and Legislature no later than six months after the final public hearing, or on or before the first day of the 2016 Regular Session of the Legislature, whichever comes first.”
The proposed legislation also would place a two-year moratorium on implementation of Common Core assessments.
Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason, and Delegate Lynwood Ireland, R-Ritchie, both sponsors of the bill, have raised questions in regards to those two points.
“We understand (the state board) wouldn’t want to back up and start all over again right now,” Butler said. “But it puts a two-year moratorium on the testing that the students would be exposed to.
“Basically it causes us to back up and look at what this is before we really put it into full swing.”
According to Ireland, stepping back and taking time to study the issues relating to the implementation of Common Core standards and assessments is important due to the entities involved in the original creation and implementation.
“I am very much concerned about … I don’t know the proper term … the invasion, if you will, of all (Common Core) decisions by the federal bureaucracy,” Ireland said. “First by the state bureaucracy and more troubling is the federal bureaucracy.
“If you look at Common Core, there are certainly parts of Common Core that underlie those concerns of mine.” …
House Bill 4390
With House Bill 4390, not only would stalling Common Core assessment implementation and the addition of new national standards be possible, but pulling out of Common Core altogether.
“There’s an actual procedure to pull out of this Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and it makes it where we’ll control our own standards, our own process for having education standards and it sets up … a way to get educators in West Virginia together and develop our own standards,” Butler said.
Once the standards are decided, they would then have to be approved in different areas of the state. Once the standards are developed, it would be required that they be looked at every few years.
When it comes to Common Core implementation in general, Ireland advocated erring on the side of caution.
“I’m concerned about where we’re going with Common Core,” he said. “This particular bill (House Bill 4349), whether it solves all those problems or not, at least what it does try to do is say let’s understand where we’re going before we go. I don’t think we (understand) currently. I think that we really need to step back and evaluate.”
UPDATE 02-09-14: A Comment on WV CCSS legislation:
My name is Dave Flinn and I am a member of the WV Against Common Core movement in our state to stop Common Core. I work with Senator Donna Boley, Representative Jim Butler, Representative Woody Ireland, Angela Summers, who is the face of our movement, and other parents and interested citizens, to put an end to Common core and save our children. Upon reading part three of the status report on state actions, and in particular the WV Bill status report, I wanted to correct a couple of points you made in your article. First, as a long time member of the Senate Education Committee, Denator Boley, who has been on the frontline of the opposition movement since its inception, introduced the first bill, SB 429 in the WV Senate to: Affirm the parent or guardian as the final authority in all matters of a student” education; To prohibit the State Board of Education from continuing to implement the Common Core assessments; To require the formation of a Legislative Common core Committee to conduct statewide hearings on the CCS and associated assessments; To prohibit the State Board of Education from expending funds for a Statewide Longitudinal Data System designed to track students; and To require a fiscal analysis of Common Core and associated assessment implementation.
I would also like to point out that HB 4349 is not an education bill.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and state lawmakers working on a number of bills to limit Common Core national education mandates or slowly replace them. The state Department of Public Instruction opposes all of the reform proposals.
State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and other legislators are working to replace Common Core and its national tests. The bill she supports would “firmly repeal Common Core in the state, and would get rid of the Smarter Balanced tests,” said Jason Rostan, Vukmir’s spokesman. “And it would create a new State Standards Education Board.”
That board would put together new standards in math and English, then within three years propose standards for science and social studies.
On January 31, Walker “came out and spoke a little strongly, saying that we should create the board and work to get stronger state standards,” Rostan noted. “So we’ve kind of held off on introducing our bill for the time being.” Vukmir hopes to work with Walker and other legislators to see what kind of bill is possible to pass “that still meets our goals,” he said.
“Governor Walker is working with members of the legislature in both chambers to craft legislation creating a process that would develop Wisconsin-based model academic standards,” said spokesman Tom Evenson. “These standards will be rigorous and tailored to Wisconsin’s history of high achievement and the expectations of parents and educators. The process will allow public input and open discussion.” …
Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) has proposed requiring the state to review its academic standards every six years, which would give Common Core another two. Most school administrators supported a 5-7 year review cycle for standards when responding to a recent legislative survey.
Another bill would require DPI to publish a comprehensive list of all data it collects about students and why, and ban the agency from sending student data to any federal agency.
DPI objects to these bills, too.
“We’re kind of in a holding pattern, to see how this plays out,” Rostan said.
UPDATE 02-09-14: More info on WI:
Wisconsin Governor proposes “revisiting” CC and adding WI produced standards and benchmarks. Although Common Core has strong support in the WI Department of Public Education, it may not come out as “standard” as the national movement would like.
Some Closing Observations
Governors and state superintendents were able to sign onto CCSS as part of their state’s application for Race to the Top (RTTT), an interesting coercion for its combined tempting millions in prize money as well as its exit from the mandated No Child Left Behind. Yet CCSS was not completed before 45 (plus DC) governors and state superintendents could apply to tie the education systems in their states to the CCSS agreement of rigid adoption.
Now legislators in many states find themselves promoting bills that at least delay the CCSS tests so that CCSS might be examined and future actions determined.
Democracy with the blood rushing to its head.
In this CCSS update series, I included recent information on 30 states. A couple of states not included in this 30 surprised me for their apparent CCSS-legislative “fizzle.” For one, I was surprised to find no CCSS legislation in California. February 21, 2014, is the last day for bills to be introduced, and all appears quiet on the CCSS front.
I was also surprised to find that a Mississippi bill to halt CCSS died in committee on February 4, 2014.
Furthermore, for the 30 states I included in this series, not all of the outcomes were positive for fighting CCSS. A handful of states are already acting on former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s advice to “rebrand” CCSS, undeniably a cosmetic alteration designed to fool the public into thinking CCSS is no longer CCSS. Interestingly, Arkansas asked CCSS copyright holder, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) if Arkansas could change the CCSS name, yet CCSSO offered no clear answer on the issue. As of this writing, Arkansas has publicized no CCSS rebrand.
In Arizona– perhaps the most well known state for its CCSS rebrand,– legislators are resisting the rebrand.
Legislators in most of these 30 states are advancing bills to halt the testing consequences of a CCSS that they admittedly do not understand– and for which they must now count the cost.
As they count costs, legislators must realize that CCSS was created to be tested– and the US Department of Education (USDOE) controls the strings. It is the USDOE that decides the conditions of testing delays.
USDOE has no plans to halt testing. All of corporate reform’s “disruptive innovation” depends upon standardized testing.
Common testing requires a common “core.”
Time to kill the Core.
How’s that for “fewer, clearer” words?