Alaska is Bringing Common Core Through the Back Door

Alaska-State-FlagAfter former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said no to the Race to the Top money it looks like Alaska may end up with the Common Core State Standards anyway.

A reader emailed me to let me know that The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development recently announced that they have joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium after adopting new standards.  Below is their press release from April 19, 2013:

Alaska Joins Multi-State Assessment Consortium

JUNEAU – Following a recent adoption of new student standards, Alaska has chosen to join the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), a state-led consortium developing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Because Alaska’s new standards in English/language arts and mathematics have been vetted as college-ready and career-ready, and are sufficiently similar to the Common Core, the SBAC assessments will provide valid and reliable results for Alaska.

“The Smarter Balanced assessment will allow us to compare our students more closely with those around the country and confirm the rigor of Alaska’s standards compared to the Common Core,” said Alaska Education Commissioner Mike Hanley.

SBAC will produce assessments for implementation by the 2014-2015 school year for grades 3 through 8 and 11. These grades meet the current testing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. SBAC also will provide formative assessments that may be used during the year to better prepare students and guide teachers in their instruction.

SBAC also will determine the assessment scores that indicate levels of achievement such as advanced, proficient, below proficient, and far below proficient. For the 11th grade assessment, SBAC will work with higher education to define benchmark scores that indicate whether a student is on track to be college-ready, meaning that students should not need remedial courses in English and math in postsecondary institutions.

Students in SBAC states will take year-end assessments on computers in the spring. The assessments will be adaptive, meaning they are individualized to each student by basing questions on the student’s response to previous questions. This method produces a more accurate understanding of each student’s achievement.
As with Alaska’s current standards and assessments, the use of SBAC assessments does not dictate curriculum or teaching methods. Standards and assessments present a goal. School districts retain their authority to decide how to reach this goal.

The Alaska State Board of Education announced they adopted new standards on June 11, 2012, but made no mention of alignment with the Common Core State Standards or how the standards were developed.  The state board announced on December 19, 2011 a public comment period for the new standards that would go through May 12, 2012, but again no mention of the Common Core State Standards or how these standards were developed.

As with other states there was not a vote by the Alaska State Legislature.

If you look at Alaska’s math standards you can see they are aligned with the Common Core Math Standards.  Now compare the Alaska ELA standards with the Common Core ELA Standards.  Yet there is no recognition from the Common Core State Standards Initiative that Alaska has signed an MOU.

I’m curious who authorized them to do this?  The larger question is after fighting centralization off why would they give in, and then do it under the radar? 

Update: Below is a link to the Alaska’s MOU with SBAC.

What 400 Data Points?

If you’re wondering what some opponents of the Common Core State Standards are talking about when they refer to 400 Data Points when discussing the potential data mining problems with the Common Core Assessments – you are not alone.

Here are a couple of links.

The first is from the National Center for Education Statistics.  The other can be found at Common Education Data Standards.  Both websites belong to the U.S. Department of Education.

HT: Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education

Kansas Update: Keep Calling Legislators to Stop Common Core

From Kristin George of Kansans Against Common Core:

TODAY AND TOMORROW make calls to the following House and Senate leaders, they have staff answering phone calls.  Ask the legislator to “Please find a way to stop Common Core in KS this legislative session.” 

Sen. Susan Wagle – Senate President



Aly Rodee – Senate President Communications Director


Sen. Jeff King


Sen. Terry Bruce – Majority Leader



Peter Northcott – Chief of Staff to the Majority Leader



Rep. Ray Merrick – Speaker of the House



Christie Kriegshauser – Speaker Chief of Staff



Rep. Peggy Mast – Speaker Pro Tem


Rep. Jene Vickrey – House Majority Leader



Sen. Ty Masterson – Senate Ways & Means Committee Chairman



Debbie Luper – Chief of Staff to Sen. Masterson



Rep. Marc Rhoades – House Appropriations Committee Chairman



Also continue emailing, calling and tweeting ALL Kansas legislators.  Simple, polite emails with specific reasons why Common Core needs to be stopped this session.

You can find the full list of State Senators and State Representatives below:

Below is a list of Twitter Handles for State Senators and State Representatives complied by Parent LED Reform:

  • Sen. Abrams                      @AbramsforKansas
  • Sen. Bowers                       @EbowersKS
  • Sen. Brue                            @Sen_Bruce
  • Sen. Denning                     @JimDenning4KS
  • Sen. Faust-Goudeau      @oletha29
  • Sen. Fitgerald                    @fitz_steve
  • Sen. Haley                           @DavidHaleyKS
  • Sen. Hensley                      @SenatorHensley
  • Sen. Holland                       @TomHollandKS
  • Sen. Holmes                       @SenMitchHolmes
  • Sen. Knox                            @repnox
  • Sen. LaTurner                    @LaTurner4KS
  • Sen. Longbine  &nb
    sp;                @JeffLongbine
  • Sen. Love                            @garrett_love
  • Sen. Lynn                            @senatorlynn
  • Sen. Masterson                  @TyMastersonKS
  • Sen. Melcher                     @jeffmelcher
  • Sen. ODonnell                   @MichaelKansas
  • Sen. Petersen                   @MikePetersenKS
  • Sen. Pettey                        @SenatorPettey
  • Sen. Pilcher Cook             @imwithmary
  • Sen. Pyle                             @PyleforSenate
  • Sen. Smith                          @Greg4KS
  • Sen. Schmidt                      @SenatorSchmidt
  • Rep. Boldra                         @sueboldra
  • Rep. Bradford                    @Brad125
  • Rep. Bruchman                 @robbruchman
  • Rep. Christmann              @KSRepChristmann
  • Rep. Claeys                         @RepClaeys
  • Rep. Clayton                      @SSCJoCoKs
  • Rep. Concannon               @ConcannonforKS
  • Rep. Corbet                        @KSCorbet54
  • Rep. Couture-Lovelady @Travis_CL
  • Rep. Davis                           @PaulDavisKS
  • Rep. Dierks                         @realtordierks
  • Rep. Esau                            @keithesau      
  • Rep. Finch                           @BlaineFinch
  • Rep. Gandhi                       @ShantiGandhi
  • Rep. Grosserode              @amanda4kansas         
  • Rep. Hedke                        @DennisHedke
  • Rep. Hildabrand               @Brett4ks
  • Rep. Hoffman                    @RepKDH         
  • Rep. Howell                        @Howell4KS
  • Rep. Jones                          @kevinicolejones
  • Rep. Kelley                         @Kasha_Kelley
  • Rep. Kinzer                         @lkinzer
  • Rep. Lunn                            @LunnForKansas
  • Rep. Macheers                 @macheers
  • Rep. Mast                           @PeggyMast
  • Rep. McPherson              @craigmcpherson
  • Rep. Meigs                         @kellymeigs
  • Rep. Merrick                      @SpeakerMerrick
  • Rep. Perry                           @perryforkansas
  • Rep. Petty                           @PettyReid
  • Rep. Powell                        @JoshuaPowell86
  • Rep. Rooker                       @MelissaRooker
  • Rep. Ryckman                   @RonRyckman
  • Rep. Schroeder                 @RepDonSchroeder
  • Rep. Siegfreid                    @ArlenSiegfreid
  • Rep. Ward                           @RepJimWard
  • Rep. Weber                        @RepWeber
  • Rep. Whipple                     @BWhippleKS

An Early Look at Smarter Balanced Assessments

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium just released a practice test to give administrators, teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders an early look at a test that will be implemented in partner states in the 2014/2015 school year.

You can read up on it here to see the technology requirements.  You can go here to enter the practice portal.

The Michigan Senate Votes to Defund the Common Core (Updated: Jumped The Gun)


Update: I was just told that today’s education omnibus budget did NOT contain language for defunding the Common Core that they will be voting on that next week.  Sorry for jumping the gun, I thought I had reliable information and didn’t realize there was more than one education spending bill.

Also, I learned that Governor Snyder will not be able to line-item veto this particular language so when the Senate does pass (hopefully) be sure to contact them, he will have to veto the entire bill.

Original: The Michigan Senate just passed the education omnibus budget which included language blocking funding for implementing the Common Core State Standards on a 25 to 12 vote.  The Michigan House voted for the measure yesterday.

The budget will now go to Governor Rick Snyder who has expressed support for the Common Core.  It will be interesting to see how he responds.  Will he veto a the $15 billion dollar budget which will fund the state’s public schools, community colleges and universities – especially as it includes $65 million for an early childhood education initiative that he has been pushing?  The Governor does have line item veto power in an appropriations bill.  What I’m not clear on is whether or not he can use it in this instance.  It’s one thing to veto a measure in order to defund it; it’s quite another to say to the legislature they have to fund an item.  If he can veto this language the Legislature has to have a 2/3 majority in order to override the veto.

You can contact Governor Snyder’s office here to let him know your thoughts.

Photo credit: Michigan Capitol via Wikimedia Commons (CC By 2.0)

Megyn Kelly Discusses Common Core

I know some are skeptical of the interview that Megan Kelly of Fox News had with Bob Bowdon of Choice Media yesterday.  Bowdon hasn’t said much about the Common Core so some question his agenda.

Personally I believe he gave a fair interview and it was favorable to our position.  I also believe it wasn’t the most substantive interview on the subject.

I’ve also heard some rambling about his school choice position.

Let me be clear about where I stand… I am not a public school cheerleader, while I don’t want them to fail, my wife and I chose to homeschool for a reason.  We recognize that most kids will be in the public schools so we have a civic concern for their reform, but we also believe parents need to be empowered with choice.  So personally (only speaking for myself) it really bothers me when I hear school choice demonized in our movement.  I received several emails yesterday that had that tone.  That isn’t to say I agree with absolutely everything that is done in the school choice movement, but it isn’t antithetical to be pro-School Choice and anti-Common Core.  I am.  But I am also concerned about how vouchers has pulled private schools into the Common Core – that diminishes choice as far as I’m concerned.

But I digress.  This isn’t bad coverage coming from a media outlet owned by a man who has been a public champion of the the Common Core.  So let’s just be thankful for the exposure.

Final Michigan House Budget Strips Common Core Funding

michigan-state-capitolThe conference committee dealing with the Michigan Department of Education funding released a conference report that left in language written by State Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) that blocks funding for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.  The House shortly after took up the bill and passed the language again.

M-Live reports:

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan accused lawmakers of “playing politics” with education after the conference committee’s vote Tuesday morning.

Additionally, an email purportedly sent to principals and superintendents by Martin Ackley, director of the MDE’s office of public and government affairs, stated that without full implementation of the Common Core standards, the state’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind standards was at risk and all Michigan schools were in danger of failing to make acceptable yearly progress.

Ackley did not respond to a request to authenticate the email, which appeared to be sent from his state email address. Portions of the email were read and referenced on the House floor during discussions about the budget measure by Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing).

Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon accusing MDE of using “the sky is falling rhetoric” regarding what he termed a “pause” in Common Core implementation.

“It is unfortunate that the Michigan Department of Education has used ‘the sky is falling’ false rhetoric applied to a pause in the budget on implementing Common Core. This pause will allow Michigan citizens to weigh in, for the first time, on whether we should hand over authority on standards taught in all our public schools to a private trade association (NGA) or not,” McMillin said.

The Michigan Senate could vote on the bill as early as tomorrow.  We encourage Michigan residents to contact their State Senators ASAP.

Photo credit: Brian Charles Watson via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Action Alert for Kansas

From Dr. Walt Chappell:

There is a Plan B taking shape to defund the CCS by the Kansas Legislature before they adjourn for the year.  Their legislative session is due to  end this Friday.

If you and your networks can assist with emails sent to the personal accounts of both House and Senate members, they will be greatly appreciated.  (See the email lists attached.)

A group of grassroots supporters of stopping the CCS are making the trip to Topeka tomorrow.  So, emails sent tonight, tomorrow and Thursday will be most effective in getting the votes we need.  Below are some talking points which are making the most impact.

Thanks again for your assistance.  Who knows, Kansas may be the first state to actually stop the implementation of the CCS.   With your help, we will succeed!!

Here are some talking points:

I wish to encourage you to work with your other legislators and vote to  stop the Common Core Standards here in Kansas—before the end of this legislative session.   With your support in stopping the progression of CCS in our state, Kansans, through our local school boards and state BOE can continue to establish and control the curriculum for our children and grandchildren.

There are many, many good reasons to stop CC in Kansas.  Here are just a few of my top reasons/concerns:

  • The loss of local and state control over what and how our students are taught.
  • The loss of student and parent privacy—-which will happen with full implementation and the required  mega dataset of student and parent personal information.  –FERPA has already been amended in order to accommodate this invasion of privacy!
  • The millions of dollars it will cost the Kansas tax payer for implementation of CCS. —Our educational dollars need to be put to use in the classroom for teaching, not for technology that is necessary to support this untested theory for nationalizing curriculum standards!

Please vote to  stop Common Core before you adjourn this 2013 legislative session.

Indiana Legislature Playing Monday Morning Quarterback?

The Times of Northwest Indiana wrote an editorial Sunday opining that the Common Core State Standards not be set aside even though the implementation was paused.

Indiana has reset the clock on joining the Common Core Standards initiative, with the Legislature overruling the State Board of Education and delaying implementation by at least one year while lawmakers play Monday morning quarterbacks this summer.

The Common Core standards would replace the current Indiana Academic Standards, and for good reason.

The Common Core national standards were developed not by the federal government but by a national group of educators. The standards have been adopted in 45 states.

There are some valid concerns about the new standards, but there are concerns about the existing standards as well. The new standards can and should be improved over time.

First off lawmakers would not have to “play Monday morning quarterback” if they were involved in the process in the first place. Education policy is too important to be decided by an unelected board. There is a system of checks and balances that was totally disregarded by this pushing to implement the Common Core.

Secondly, several content experts that testified before the Indiana Senate Education committee either in person or in writing disagree that the Common Core is more “rigorous” than the Indiana Academic Standards. Sandra Stotsky and Augusto Fabio Milner would disagree with the Times. I think I’ll accept their word over The Times.

Third, out of over 125 members on the standards development work group only three were classroom teachers, only five were working for a local school district. So how again were these written by a group of educators?

I’m glad Indiana has newspapers who will go beyond the talking points given to them by Common Core advocates.

Stop Common Core Progress Update

commoncore1We are drawing close to the end of the state legislative sessions.  I thought it would be a good time to highlight the progress that has been made in fighting the Common Core.  If you look back just a few months ago you can see how far our movement has come.  Some significant progress was made in just the last five months.

  1. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) then called on the federal defunding of the Common Core State Standards, the assessments and the federal review board for the assessments.  He had eight other Senators join him.
  2. Indiana passed a Common Core Pause bill which brings more transparency for the Common Core implementation in the Hoosier State.  The Indiana State Board of Education is required to hold three public hearings and have a fiscal impact study done before they can continue to implement the Common Core.  Our hope is this will lead to a repeal bill as the facts, not just the propaganda, becomes known.
  3. The Utah GOP passed their own resolution condemning the Common Core State Standards.
  4. The Georgia GOP Resolutions Committee passed their anti-Common Core resolution 11-3 despite major lobbying being done on behalf of Governor Nathan Deal.  The Georgia GOP Convention were not able to take up any resolutions as the convention ran late and they lost their quorum.  This follows four district conventions passing their own anti-Common Core resolutions.  Governor Deal recently ordered 60 days of public comment on the Common Core in response to pressure he has been under.
  5. Oklahoma after seeing their initial bill get derailed had their Speaker of the House do a 180 and is now working to repeal the Common Core in their state.
  6. Iowa put Common Core Assessments on hold and now requires a task force to be formed to study different assessments (not just tie themselves to SBAC) and do a fiscal impact study before the State Legislature will vote on an assessment.  The time frame for assessments were pushed back to the 2016-17 school year.  This is a turn around as the original language in Iowa’s education reform bill gave the State Board of Education the authority to mandate Smarter Balanced Assessments.  So a conference committee stripped that language and inserted the pause.  Also opposition is forming within the State Legislature so look for repeal and defunding bills to be forthcoming next session (their session ended yesterday).
  7. Wisconsin just had a hearing on the Common Core Wednesday, and it sounds like it likely that pause legislation will be introduced in that state.
  8. Legislation has been introduced in Congress by Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL) entitled “Defending State Authority Over Education Act.”  This would “prohibit the federal government from offering grants or policy waivers contingent on a state’s use of certain curricula or assessment policies.”
  9. Pennsylvania is experiencing push-back that led Governor Tom Corbett to sign an executive order delaying the Common Core implementation. (Still need legislative action so this is permanent).
  10. Ohio is having a budget battle over the Common Core State Standards, after the Ohio House stripped funding for PARCC from their budget.
  11. States that have had legislation introduced this year that would either pause or repeal the Common Core State Standards: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota.  States that are still active are mentioned above.  States that had bills die in committee (or in Missouri’s case was halted due to political games prior to a floor vote) we expect will see efforts again next session.
  12. We have seen an explosion of anti-Common Core state-based groups over the last several months.

It is clear that we have momentum in what seemed a year ago to be an impossible uphill battle.

Originally posted at American Principles Project.