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HR 5: Student Success Act and Common Core

February 24, 2015

On February 22, 2015, I wrote a post in which I examined the testing language of the first 50 pages of HR 5, the Student Success Act (SSA), which the House will vote on soon (likely Friday, February 27, 2015) as a possible reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The full text of the bill can be found here:  student_success_act_text.

In this post, I would like to consider one additional component of the 597-page SSA– that which explicitly concerns the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Note that my examination of SSA’s anti-CCSS language does not constitute my endorsement of SSA.

Below is the SSA language expressly prohibiting the US Secretary of Education from requiring states to have “common” standards, including (by name) the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (pages 51-52):

(j) VOLUNTARY PARTNERSHIPS.—A State may  enter into a voluntary partnership with another State to develop and implement the academic standards and assessments required under this section, except that the Secretary shall not, either directly or indirectly, attempt to influence, incentivize, or coerce State—

      (1) adoption of the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or assessments tied to such standards; or

    (2) participation in any such partnerships.

(k) CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this part shall be construed to prescribe the use of the academic assessments described in this part for student promotion or graduation purposes.

This language regarding CCSS is not surprising coming from a Republican-dominated House. The Republican-dominated American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was against CCSS and even passed its own formal anti-CCSS resolution until Jeb Bush intervened. I wrote about ALEC’s Common-Core “change of heart” in this July 2013 post. It is worth a read given the current popular Republican sentiment against CCSS– and Jeb Bush’s holding fast to it.

As I read SSA (I have read more of it than I have yet written about), I see the fingerprints of ALEC preferences for test-driven, privatizing reform all over it. However, CCSS was not an idea that ALEC readily endorsed. Jeb Bush was the ALEC string-puller on the CCSS front.



Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

  1. twinkie1cat permalink

    The whole Common Core thing was poorly thought through and politicized from the start and, as usual, the people hurt are the teachers and the students. Since the Democrats were for it, the Republicans were against it. However, the Republicans were first, for it, until they realized Obama was also for it and their code of behavior for the last 6 years has been to oppose whatever Obama was in favor of from health care to gay rights. I don’t know why it couldn’t and can’t even now be turned over to the teachers for evaluation and to pick out what is usable and appropriate. The PAARC tests are just plain wrong and should be dropped in favor of teacher made tests.where the students are tested on their functional level, not the level of the grade they are supposed to be in if they must have standardized testing at all. .

    • Turning the Common Core over to teachers for revamping would require trust and time – which seem to be in short supply. Not to mention the CC is owned by the NGA and CCSSO who require copyright notice, attribution and adoption in their entirety. What a headache. Too bad the egos behind this can’t listen to reason and just let teacher professional organizations and state departments of education rework the CC. The standards obviously need to be more age-appropriate, clearer, better worded, etc. But then they wouldn’t jibe with those gigantic, unwieldy, expensive and ridiculous tests!

  2. goingupward65 permalink

    The American people should be promoting Senator David Vitter’s bill # s.73 “Local Control of Education Act”. It is an amendment to the original ESEA to allow States to “Opt-Out” of NCLB and CCSSI. Hold the government accountable to less federal government mandates and over-reach. Stay true to the original intent of the founding fore-father’s vision. The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We are a Republic.

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    It is instructive to see the Politico report today on the strategy of “incremental” dismantlement of the CCSS state-by-state and the astounding claim by a judge that the SBAC test agreements are illegal interstate arrangements. Find more here

    COMMON CORE SABOTAGE: The red-meat speeches at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference are likely to thunder with calls to repeal the Common Core. But out in the trenches, conservative lawmakers in state after state are running into difficulty rounding up votes to revoke the academic standards outright. So, aided at times by unlikely allies in the teachers unions, Republican lawmakers have rolled out a new tactic: sabotaging the academic guidelines and the new Common Core exams in incremental steps. Bills they’re considering would give individual schools the right to opt out of the standards; cut state funding for Common Core-aligned textbooks; bar state superintendents from ever entering into national consortia; and diluting the impact of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced exams. In Colorado, for instance, Republican state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is pushing a bill to withdraw the state from PARCC in what he sees as the first step toward reclaiming local control over education. “I’m not trying to hit a home run,” Klingenschmitt said. “I’m trying to lay down a bunt single.” Stephanie Simon has more:

    – On a related note: A Missouri judge had some strong words about Smarter Balanced on Tuesday when he ruled that the state’s partnership with the testing group is an “illegal interstate compact not authorized by the U.S. Congress,” The Associated Press reports []. The attorney general’s office, which represents the state in the case, is reviewing the ruling.

    – Speaking of the Common Core, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is out with a new video in support of the standards:

    Also, EdWeek will (belatedly) publish my 300 word rebuttal to Wade Henderson’s (head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights) long Commentary (Feb 4, 2015). defending the Common Core State Standards titled “Low Standards Do a Disservice to All.”

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