Category Archives: Common Core

More States Push Back Against Common Core

Common Core continues to be a top concern in the states, with Mississippi and Wisconsin being the latest states taking steps to distance themselves from the controversial standards.

Mississippi is considering full repeal of the Common Core standards. State senators Michael Watson and Angela Burks introduced legislation to repeal the standards last month, with Watson telling GulfLive.com Mississippi “will end up with our own standards that are better, higher and cleaner than Common Core.”

This measure follows Republican Gov. Phil Bryant’s December 2013executive order affirming Mississippi’s right to define their education standards.

The bill would create an advisory board to evaluate other state standards (using resources such as Fordham Institute’s State of State Standards), and introduce new Mississippi standards to the state department of education. This way the advisory board could craft a set of standards exclusively for Mississippi students, by borrowing from rigorous standards like California’s math and Massachusetts’s language arts standards, but also keeping strong standards of their own.

Common Core continues to be a top concern in the states, with Mississippi and Wisconsin being the latest states taking steps to distance themselves from the controversial standards.

Mississippi is considering full repeal of the Common Core standards. State senators Michael Watson and Angela Burks introduced legislation to repeal the standards last month, with Watson telling GulfLive.com Mississippi “will end up with our own standards that are better, higher and cleaner than Common Core.”

This measure follows Republican Gov. Phil Bryant’s December 2013executive order affirming Mississippi’s right to define their education standards.

The bill would create an advisory board to evaluate other state standards (using resources such as Fordham Institute’s State of State Standards), and introduce new Mississippi standards to the state department of education. This way the advisory board could craft a set of standards exclusively for Mississippi students, by borrowing from rigorous standards like California’s math and Massachusetts’s language arts standards, but also keeping strong standards of their own.

In addition, in January, the Mississippi Board of Education voted to withdraw from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium, which is one of the two tests aligned to Common Core, and requested proposals for new state tests on Feb. 2. Until a new test is adopted, however, the state will use NCS Pearson Inc. assessments. This was met with skepticism because Pearson signed a contract with the PARCC last year, leading to concerns that the new tests will be influenced by Common Core standards.

Mississippi is practicing competitive federalism, which is the process of states evaluating their current standards, keeping what is good, discarding what is bad, and using what has worked in other states. Competitive federalism is the opposite of one-size-fits-all approaches like Common Core.

Wisconsin is also moving away from Common Core standards. Earlier this month Gov. Scott Walker, R., Wis., cut state funding for the other Common Core-aligned exam, the Smarter Balanced assessment, in his budget proposal. The proposal doesn’t prohibit schools from using Common Core, but encourages district level innovation.

“I want high standards—and those decisions should be made by school board members and parents and others at the local level,” said Walker in his budget address.

Withdrawing from the Smarter Balanced consortium gives Wisconsin the opportunity to use a new test—perhaps approved by the University of Wisconsin-Madison—that could reflect state and district-driven standards.

Common Core began as an effort to establish uniform national standards and tests, and was incentivized by billions in federal funding and waivers from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind. It was developed in 2009 by Achieve Inc. with oversight from the privately-run National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, but was then promoted by the Obama administration. In the midst of a recession, 46 states signed on to the standards, agreeing to implement them by the 2014-15 school year.

To aid the implementation process, the federal government created two national tests aligned with the standards: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia. The Department of Education also created a “Technical Review Panel” to oversee the validity of assessment questions.

But as the deadline for implementation loomed closer, states began to realize the costs of adopting Common Core, both financial and in terms of their educational decision-making autonomy. By June 2014— two months before the implementation date— 19 states had either withdrawn from the tests or paused implementation of the standards. Four of the 19 (Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana) had exited the national standards completely.

UD-common-core-status-map (5)

Opposition to Common Core continues to build across the nation, driven largely by parents. Quality education is best supported and fostered by those closest to the children—local leadership, teachers and parents—who are best equipped to craft an education system that fosters upward mobility and opportunity for children in their state.

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Portrait of Brittany Corona

Brittany Corona

Brittany Corona is a research assistant in Domestic Policy Studies at The Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation.Read her research.

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Legislation Lets States Cut Ties Between Common Core and Federal Grants

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has drafted legislation to prohibit the federal government from “mandating, incentivizing or coercing” states to adopt the national education standards known as Common Core.

The intent of Vitter’s bill is to enable states to more easily exit the national standards, which more and more parents and educators have come to oppose, by voiding requirements attached to previously issued waivers from federal law.

States likely could retain their waivers from the law, called No Child Left Behind, even if they chose to pull out of Common Core.

Opponents have criticized the Obama administration for “incentivizing” states to sign on to the Common Core standards by offering $4.35 billion in grants and waivers under its “Race to the Top” program.

Of his bill, Vitter, a former supporter of Common Core, told The Daily Signal:

I’ve fought tooth and nail for local control of education and against the enormous growth of federal power under President Obama. That includes prohibiting the federal government from mandating, coercing or bribing states to adopt Common Core or its equivalent.

Vitter quietly filed his legislation, the Local Control of Education Act, as a standalone bill last week but intends to propose it as an amendment to the spending bill that Congress must pass this week.

The bill aims to “prohibit the federal government from mandating, incentivizing or coercing states to adopt the Common Core state standards or any other specific academic standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or programs of instruction.”

Vitter, who intends to run for Louisiana governor in 2015, changed his position on the Common Core standards. Four months ago, in an interview with C-SPAN, the Republican lawmaker said he “strongly supports” the standards.

Of his reversal, Vitter said in a Dec. 1 press release:

After listening to literally thousands of parents, teachers and others since then, I don’t believe that we can achieve that Louisiana control, buy-in and success I’m committed to if we stay in Common Core. Instead, I think we should get out of Common Core/PARCC and establish an equally or more rigorous Louisiana system of standards and testing.

PARCC, which stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a group of states working to develop a set of assessments in math and English to measure whether students from kindergarten through 12th grade are on track to succeed in college and career.

Vitter joins Louisiana’s current governor, fellow Republican Bobby Jindal, in challenging Common Core.

>>> Bobby Jindal Explains Why He ‘Flipped’ on Common Core

In June, Jindal bypassed the state legislature and issued a series of executive orders withdrawing Louisiana from Common Core and all federally subsidized standardized tests.

Jindal also filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education alleging that the U.S. Department of Education, under President Obama, used the $4.35 billion grant program and waiver policy to trap states in a federal “scheme” to nationalize school curriculum.

Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education teamed with a group of parents to challenge the legal groundwork for that lawsuit. In filing a countersuit against the governor, they left the status of Common Core in Louisiana murky.

Meanwhile, Louisiana continues to use PARCC, the federally funded Common Core testing and assessments group.

Stafford Palmieri, assistant chief of staff to Jindal, told The Daily Signal:

The federal government’s actions are in violation of the Constitution and federal law, which is why we filed a lawsuit to fight Common Core in federal court. We also joined our state legislators in a state court suit against Common Core, and we will work next legislative session to create high Louisiana standards that are best for our children and keep education left to local control.

Vitter, with his eye on Jindal’s job, wants to see states be eligible for federal grants regardless of whether they signed on to Common Core.

Lindsey M. Burke, The Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman fellow in education policy, said Louisiana is home to some of the most innovative school choice options in the country. For  parents there, she said, “retaining control of education decisions is critically important for ensuring that type of innovation and customization can continue in the future.”

Burke added:

National standards and tests are a threat to the welcome proliferation of school choice, which Louisiana has been a big player in advancing in recent years.

>>> Commentary: It’s Not Too Late for States to Reject Common Core

Michael Brickman, national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank that supports Common Core, said he “absolutely agrees” with efforts to separate federal funds from implementation—although most of the Race to the Top grants have been distributed.

In a telephone interview, Brickman said:

The federal government should not be in this business of incentivizing standards, but just because the federal government is incentivizing them doesn’t mean they’re bad—anymore than charter schools are bad, which were incentivized in the exact same grants. Nobody’s saying we should stop having charter schools just because the federal government is incentivizing them.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers first developed the idea of Common Core standards in 2009 as a way to boost education standards across the board. In the years since, parents, politicians and political organizations have become deeply divided on how the standards and tests are implemented in their states.

In addition to Louisiana, three states—Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina—acted to pull out of Common Core this year. More than a dozen others either have exited or downgraded their involvement with the assessment component.

Critics argue the adoption of Common Core surrenders control of the content taught in local schools to political organizations and bureaucrats in Washington. They say the standards are not likely to improve student performance in comparison to other nations.

Champions argue that Common Core sets better education standards without dictating curriculum. They say states are free to opt in or out, or make adjustments as they see fit.

“Louisiana has the option to change the Common Core if it wishes,” Fordham Institute’s Brickman says. “Other states have made changes to Common Core or opted not to use the standards at all.”

But Palmieri, who has been deeply involved in Jindal’s education battle in Louisiana, dismissed as a “smokescreen” the narrative that Common Core is simply academic standards. She told The Daily Signal:

Curriculum is the product of standards and assessments—and educators know that what’s tested is what’s taught. And what’s tested is controlled by the federally funded testing consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, and states held hostage by federal grants like Race to the Top. The bottom line is that Common Core is about controlling curriculum. These are big government elitists that believe they know better than parents and local school boards.

>>> What’s in Common Core National Standards?

With reading proficiency in the early grades at a dismal 23 percent in Louisiana, the debate over Common Core standards is likely to persist as a top issue in the race for governor.

Regaining local control of education is essential, Vitter said:

In Louisiana, we need a system in place that truly prepares our children to be successful in higher education and the workplace that is as or more rigorous than Common Core.

Kelsey Harkness
The Daily Signal

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Two More States Eye Repeal of Common Core

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On the heels of Republican victories last week, attempts to replace Common Core with homegrown standards are resurfacing in states across the nation.

Most prominently, elected officials in Wisconsin and Ohio are spearheading efforts to reclaim more control of education.

On Nov. 5, the day after the midterm elections, an Ohio House committee passed a bill to repeal the Common Core standards.

Although officials on both sides doubt the bill will garner enough support to pass by the end of the year, they are hopeful the legislature will take up the issue in 2015.

But to be safe, Common Core supporters like state Rep. Gerry Stebelton, R-Lancaster, say they will double down on efforts to defeat the House committee’s repeal bill.

“It deserved to die,” said Stebelton of the bill. “It has no merit.”

In Wisconsin, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said on Thursday changes to Common Core are definitely on next year’s agenda, according to the Associated Press.

Even though Fitzgerald wouldn’t offer specifics, his plan to reexamine Common Core aligns with that of Gov. Scott Walker, who won his re-election bid campaigning on a platform of expanding school choice, among other issues.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: John Angelillo/UPI/Newscom)

Walker, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, made it clear this July he wants to repeal the Common Core standards.

“Today, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass a bill in early January to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin,” he said in a statement.

>>> Commentary: School Choice Wins, Common Core Loses in Election 2014

Wisconsin voted in 2011 to adopt the educational standards in math and English, but now, support is dwindling.

“Fitzgerald’s remarks show that education policy is a priority for Wisconsin, and that Common Core will continue to drive the debate in the coming months,” said Lindsey M. Burke, a Heritage Foundation expert on Common Core standards.

Developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers,the Obama administration incentivizedCommon Core with $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants and waivers for states that signed on.

Already this year, four states—Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana—withdrew from the national standards and tests, and more than a dozen others either have exited or downgraded their involvement with the assessment component.

“More and more states are now seriously considering the next steps on Common Core, and the best way forward for them to reclaim control of education content,” said Burke, Heritage’s Will Skillman fellow, adding:

States like Oklahoma and South Carolina have demonstrated that it is possible to withdraw from these national standards and tests, and to take the opportunity to craft quality standards that are homegrown and reflective of state and local priorities.

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Survey: Teachers do not favor “integrated” math in high schools

An overwhelming majority of teachers are not in favor of the way math is taught to high school students in Georgia, according to a recent survey conducted for the state Board of Education.

The survey released last week was used to determine whether high school math teachers preferred algebra and geometry to be taught as separate courses – or a more “traditional” model – or for concepts from multiple math areas to be rolled into one course and taught in an “integrated” fashion.

The vast majority of high school math teachers surveyed – some 84 percent – were not in favor of the integrated model, which is what’s currently taught in high schools.

The issue over the method of teaching math in high schools has been debated in recent months,with Fulton County schools superintendent Robert Avossa and other education leaders pushing for schools to be able to teach the more traditional model.

Fulton district leaders say students are struggling with the subject, and Avossa argues the state’s “integrated” method of teaching math in high school – which combines three disciplines such as geometry, algebra and data probability — is not preparing students well enough for college math.

The integrated teaching method has been debated among educators since its implementation in Georgia classrooms in 2008. The change marked a shift by state education leaders from the more traditional approach, which focuses primarily on one kind of math in each course.

Some school districts rallied against the change, and current state superintendent John Barge gave districts a choice of traditional or integrated, with two options for End of Course Tests. But when Common Core performance standards were rolled out and implemented, the choice went away.

Georgia’s End of Course Tests for high schoolers assess math on the integrated model. The state is planning a new standardized testing system for this school year.

State education leaders are conducting a review of all standards, based on Gov. Nathan Deal’s request last year. That review should be completed and any recommended changes – including those to math — brought to the state board by the end of the year, state education leaders say.

By Rose French
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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3 States Push Back Against Common Core



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Following Indiana’s lead, state legislatures in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Missouri have approved measures to exit and replace the national standards and tests known as Common Core.

A proposal in Oklahoma would repeal Common Core and replace it with new standards developed by the state board of education. In the interim, Oklahoma’s prior state standards, the Priority Academic Student Skills standards, would be reinstated.

“If signed, HB3399 would be the most thorough removal of Common Core from any state of adoption in the nation to date,” said Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education.

The South Carolina legislature just agreed to a proposal that would create a committee to review and revise the Common Core standards in the state by the 2015-16 school year. The bill also requires the state to exit Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced testing consortia completely and replace the tests with their own assessments by the 2014-15 school year.

In Missouri, the legislature has passed a proposal which also repeals and replaces Common Core.

The bill requires the state board to develop new academic standards by October 2015, in place of the Common Core, and adopt and implement these standards by the 2016-17 school year. “This puts the process back into the hands of the people,” said State Senator Ed Emery, R-Lamar.

Missouri’s bill also requires the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balance testing consortium to be used during the 2014-15 school year, likely resulting in Common Core being taught in Missouri for at least the next school year.

Indiana has fully exited the national standards, and Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Missouri have an opportunity to reclaim their state education decision-making authority. Sixteen other states have pushed back against the Common Core national standards by downgrading or halting implementation of the standards and/or national tests, including Arizona last week.

Exiting Common Core would give all these states the opportunity to implement strong state standards that are innovative and reflect the input of academic content experts, teachers, and parents across the state.

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Erick Erickson Disturbed by Ashley Bell Quote

Erick Erickson found our phone conversation between GA Charter School leaders and Ashley Bell as disturbing as we did.

Erickson is referring to our article Ashley Bell, State Super candidate, Reveals Himself. In it, Ashley Bell says Common Core is “the law of the land” and his job is to implement the law of the land. The problem with Common Core, according to Mr. Bell, has been the rollout. “Parents are having a hard time understanding it. Teachers are having a hard time teaching it. My objective is to help teachers and parents [understand and teach] Common Core.”

The conference call that day reinforced our concerns about his understanding of educational issues in Georgia.  His perspective is limited and narrow.  He doesn’t seem to know much about education outside his world on the board at his local charter school.  While he is amicable and has a story for every question, Mr. Bell lacks solutions for the big problems that do not revolve around his experience.

Metro Atlanta School Performance
As Mr. Bell points out, the performance of metro Atlanta schools is embarrassing.  The editors at Georgia SchoolWatch are disappointed that Mr. Bell’s only plan to help metro Atlanta schools is more charters.  Mr. Bell states that NCLB waivers and “shaming them into behaving” is all the state can do.
While Georgia SchoolWatch understands that charters are part of a solution, we were stunned to learn that Mr. Bell has no plan to address the chronic problems that ail some of the metro Atlanta’s school districts.  No state school superintendent will be successful if they do not address the problems in metro Atlanta.  Like it or not, what happens in Atlanta is seen nationally as being a problem for all of Georgia.  There are also other regions that face problems that deserve more thoughtful solutions.  This was where Mr. Bell’s inexperience and naiveté were exhibit A.  Our next state school superintendent should, at a minimum, have a plan to address the metro regions’ problems.

Funding
Mr. Bell didn’t demonstrate knowledge of how state education funding works.  When asked about what changes he would like made to QBE, he said the biggest problem school districts have with QBE is that they want more money (Thank you Captain Obvious).  He meandered around the funding formula without saying anything specific about the subject and went on to say that funding shouldn’t be wealth redistribution and that RESAs could help the problem by helping districts with teacher training and rewriting tests to be aligned with Common Core. (Again, helping to solidify Common Core is contradictory to the statement on his website and during multiple public appearances.)

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Erickson Endorses Nancy Jester – State Superintendent

Conservative radio talk show host and RedState blogger, Erick Erickson, endorses Nancy Jester for State Superintendent saying, “I’m going with Nancy Jester.  She’s opposed to Common Core.  She gets the problem.”

On Tuesday, Erick Erickson explained his opposition to Common Core saying, “The federal government has poured a lot of money getting states to adopt Common Core. And what comes with Federal money? Strings. Those strings attached will involve the government in setting the curriculum.”

Erickson went on to say, “Because we will have uniform standards based largely on textbook providers catering to California, setting what and who you will actually read. Once you have the strings and one place to go, it’s very easy to control everything.”

“There is very little in the standards about reading and understanding the Bill of Rights.  You would think that the constitution would be a good non fiction document.  No.  They want to read the writings of left wing activists like Caesar Chavez or Margaret Sanger.  That’s where this is headed.”

“Whatever you do, do not vote for people like Kira Willis who defend Common Core.”

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