New Hampshire Senate Passes Bill Making Common Core Voluntary

Last week the New Hampshire Senate voted 14 to 9 to pass SB 44. This bill is not a repeal of the Common Core State Standards, but it makes the math and ELA standards voluntary for local school districts in the Granite State.

The bill that was sponsored by State Senators Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), Dan Innis (R-New Castle), Harold French (R-Franklin), Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), John Reagan (R-Deerfield), Gary Daniels (R-Milford), and Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead). State Representatives Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill), Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro), and David Murotake (R-Nashua) have sponsored the bill in the House.

The text of the bill reads:

1  Substantive Educational Content of an Adequate Education.  Amend RSA 193-E:2-a, IV to read as follows:

IV.(a) The minimum standards for public school approval for the areas identified in paragraph I shall constitute the opportunity for the delivery of an adequate education. The general court shall periodically, but not less frequently than every 10 years, review, revise, and update, as necessary, the minimum standards identified in paragraph I and shall ensure that the high quality of the minimum standards for public school approval in each area of education identified in paragraph I is maintained. Changes made by the board of education to the school approval standards through rulemaking after the effective date of this section shall not be included within the standards that constitute the opportunity for the delivery of an adequate education without prior adoption by the general court. The board of education shall provide written notice to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the chairs of the house and senate education committees of any changes to the school approval standards adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.

(b)  Neither the department of education nor the state board of education shall by statute or rule require that the common core state standards developed jointly by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers be implemented in any school or school district in this state.

2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives will now have to consider this bill.

Local school districts have a history of pushing back against the Common Core in New Hampshire. In 2013, for instance, the Manchester Public Schools Board voted to reject Common Core.

Ultimately what makes this difficult for school districts to do is the mandated statewide assessment school districts have to administer to their students, as well as, the glut of Common Core-aligned curriculum. New Hampshire is still a member of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The New Hampshire General Court needs to address the assessments as well. Every Student Succeeds Act requires that state assessments align with state standards. Making the standards optional, while a first step, ultimately doesn’t go far enough.

The Failure Of Obama’s School “Turnaround”

Photo credit: Bill Selak

Just this January, it was reported that figures crunched at the end of Mr. Obama’s turn as POTUS determined that one of his pet project, SIG – School Improvement Grants – with their heavy emphasis on School Turnaround, was a dismal failure after an influx of taxpayer funds to the tune of 7 BILLION dollars. Wait for it….

HUGE SHOCK – STOP THE PRESSES

It will always be ‘interesting’ to me that, though I can’t think of one federal program – specifically dealing with public education – that has used taxpayer dollars to obtain results, we continue to allow and prop up federal meddling in our state’s education policy. I’m serious – I can’t think of one.

All you have to do is say the word Head Start and any researcher worth their salt will shake their head like a rag doll and roll their eyes.

Here’s the WORST part about the “Turnaround” model. Guess what? It didn’t even work in Chicago where it was piloted. Get this headline from the Daily Good, “Results at Arne Duncan’s First Chicago Turnaround School Raise Efficacy and Legal Questions.”

What? Seriously? So the Obama administration held taxpayers upside down and gravitized 4.5 BILLION dollars from their pockets for the whole School Improvement Grant deal, even though Duncan’s own concept – tried right in his own backyard – DIDN’T WORK and they KNEW it didn’t work?

Holy taxpayer fleecing Batman!

The interesting part is that either the failure part of the story never gets told, or like here, that result is taken to mean that we didn’t spend enough or didn’t do this or that or the other thing to make it work. There’s nothing wrong with government meddling, socialists think, it’s just that we never really attack the challenge properly. Socialism would work dangit, we just aren’t DOING it right. Kind of like you see here in this article on the 74 million, “8 Lingering Questions to Confront After the Failure of Obama’s School Turnaround Plan.”

Why is it that we have to postmortem a failed FEDERAL education policy? Well, we DON’T, it’s just the education policy wonks won’t have a job if you take that away from them!

Trickle down government doesn’t work. It never has and it won’t ever. The best way to tackle any problem – especially education – is at the local level where the people who benefit most can be encouraged to become involved and work toward a mutually agreed upon situation that will help the most number of people.

Here’s an excellent example. Just recently, a teacher at the school in my small town, wanted to get the Rush Revere series for her class to teach them history. There was no money in the budget to get the books, so the online newspaper published her request and it was shared in and around the town. Low and behold, the money was secured to buy enough books for every kid to have one. Granted, more money is still needed, but the immediate need was met and more fundraising can be accomplished for the long term.

No Government program meant to help all students can help all students. That is the premise behind every failed socialist program. There IS NO HELPING EVERYONE. We can only do what we can for those we can.

Cross-posted from Reclaiming Oklahoma Parent Empowerment

West Virginia Legislature Considers Common Core Repeal

West Virginia State Capitol Building – Charleston, WV
Photo credit: O Palsson (CC-By-2.0)

Another bill has been added to our growing list. HB 2443 was introduced last Tuesday in the West Virginia House of Delegates which would repeal the Common Core State Standards and replace them with proven standards. The bill that is sponsored by State Delegates Michael Folk (R-Martinsburg), Pat McGeehan (R-Chester), Jim Butler (R-Henderson), Jill Upson (R-Charles Town), Danny Hamrick (R-Clarksburg), S. Marshall Wilson (R-Gerrardstown), Tony Paynter (R-Hanover), Joshua Higginbotham (R-Poca), Saira Blair (R-Martinsburg) and Patrick Martin (R-Charleston).

Here is what the bill does:

  • The bill asserts the Legislature’s constitutional authority in determining standards: “The Constitution of the State of West Virginia, section one, article twelve thereof, states: “The Legislature shall provide, by general law, for a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” Furthermore, section two, article twelve of said Constitution states: “The general supervision of the free schools of the state shall be vested in the West Virginia Board of Education which shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law.” (Emphasis added). Therefore, because the Legislature is empowered to identify “such duties as may be prescribed by law” to the West Virginia Board of Education, it is clearly within the Legislature’s purview to specify appropriate academic standards that will provide for a thorough education.
  • Effective July 1, 2017 the West Virginia State Board of Education is prohibited from implementing the Common Core State Standards.
  • The bill then directs the Board to adopt and implement the Mathematics Content Standards for California Public Schools, adopted by the California State Board of Education in December, 1997, and the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, adopted by the California State Board of Education in March, 2005, to replace their previous math standards.
  • They also direct the Board to adopt and implement the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, implemented by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as the mandatory curriculum frameworks for English Language Arts in the year 2001, and any associated educational frameworks or supplementation.
  • They also add that any English Language Arts standard related to authors or literary works from the state of Massachusetts may be substituted with appropriate authors or literary works from the State of West Virginia.
  • These standards will remain in place for five years.
  • Then the Board is directed to withdraw from the Memorandum of Agreement it entered with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers due to their adoption of the Common Core State Standards.
  • The bill also directs the Board to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (which is already being done).
  • The bill then states that Smarter Balanced or any other assessment based on Common Core is prohibited after July 1, 2017.
  • It creates an assessment development committee to develop a replacement assessment.

You can read the entire bill here.

I am surprised it didn’t address the Next Generation Science Standards that the board adopted. I didn’t see any other bill in West Virginia that addressed it.

I really like this bill. It appears straightforward, let’s hope it moves forward and isn’t amended to death as that has been done before in West Virginia. They need a real repeal and to replace Common Core with quality standards. If there  is an amendment I hope it is intended to address the Next Generation Science Standards.

Right now this bill has been referred to the House Education and Finance committees.

A Massachusetts Success Story: Voc-Tech Schools

Madison Park Voc-Tech High School in Roxbury, MA
Photo credit: Tim Pierce (CC-By-SA 3.0)

I read an article in Commonwealth Magazine earlier this month that pointed to the success of voc-tech schools in the state of Massachusetts written by former Massachusetts Senate President Tom Birmingham who helped author the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. He is currently works with our friends at the Pioneer Institute as a senior fellow in education.

An excerpt:

Voc-techs educate a higher percentage of low-income and special education students than typical high schools do, but the dropout rate at regional voc-techs is about one third that of traditional high schools and their special education graduation rate is 24 percentage points higher.

More than two-thirds of voc-tech graduates go on to post-secondary education. For those who choose not to, a survey of business owners and others conducted by Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center found that voc-tech graduates are more job ready than other high school graduates. What’s more, a number of respondents said they were more job ready than college grads.

The schools operate using an innovative model under which pupils alternate weekly between traditional academics and hands-on work in their trade, allowing students to graduate with a high school diploma and a certificate of proficiency in their career technical program.

Common Core can’t take any credit for this. The 1993 reforms are what made a difference for voc-tech schools in Massachusetts. Not that problems don’t exist in these schools (they are under Common Core after all), but I wish more states and school districts would consider this route as these schools help break out of the “one-size-fits-all” mold we see in public education.

Alabama Workforce-Data Bills Threaten Student, Family Privacy

Photo credit: Jim Bowen (CC-By-2.0)

What with manipulation of currency and theft of jobs, China is held in fairly low repute, especially down South. But some Alabama legislators seem enamored of at least one part of the Chinese system – the one that compiles enormous amounts of data on citizens, beginning when they’re toddlers and continuing through their careers, and swaps this data back and forth among various government agencies for government purposes. One might expect this kind of dangerous nonsense from, say, California, but . . . Alabama?

Parents and citizens are alarmed at two companion bills (SB 153 and HB  97) currently moving through the legislature to create a massive centralized warehouse of education and workforce data. This system would be called ANSWERS, or the Alabama Network of Statewide Workforce and Education-Related Statistics, which would be administered by a new Department of Labor bureaucracy called the Office of Education and Workforce Statistics (the “Office”).

The reach of ANSWERS would be sweeping. Operated by the Office, the system would combine education data (beginning in pre-K) and workforce data to provide information on the effectiveness of educational and workforce-training programs, and to assess “the availability of a skilled workforce to address current and future demands of business and industry.” (The bills don’t explain how the government can predict the “future demands of business and industry”; the Soviet Union tried it, but without much success.) The data could then be analyzed for whatever purposes the bureaucrats come up with, and used for “research” which, if history is any guide, will be ignored if it doesn’t support what the bureaucrats want to do.

How would this work? An Advisory Board would be established to identify the types of data that certain listed governmental entities would have to dump into the centralized warehouse. The statutory (and non-exclusive) list of such data sources includes all education agencies in the state, from pre-school through four-year universities – plus the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Veterans’ Affairs. So these billions of data points on practically all Alabama citizens would be centralized into one repository to be sifted and shifted by central planners.

But surely the Advisory Board will be constructed so as to protect the interests of children and their parents. Not exactly. Of the 24 members, 22 must be either politicians, bureaucrats, or representatives of specific entities such as higher-education systems. One must represent private industry and know something about data-security (the bills’ only nod to security concerns), and the last shall be a lonely “representative of the public” (not necessarily a parent). The fix, ladies and gentlemen, is in.

The privacy concerns with ANSWERS are staggering. For one thing, although certain proponents have suggested the data would all be de-identified, the bills clearly contemplate the presence of personally identifiable data (by requiring “security clearance . . . for individuals with access to personally identifiable data”). Indeed, the bills specify that the Office would be considered an “authorized representative” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the only point of such a designation is to be entitled to receive students’ personally identifiable without parental consent or even notification.

Even if all data were to be de-identified, data can be frequently re-identified – especially when there are hundreds of data points on each individual to enable data-matching. And the bills even specify that the Office is to “link educational, workforce, and workforce training data from multiple sources through quality matching.” In such a vast repository, anonymization will be difficult if not impossible.

No more comforting is the bills’ requirement that the system comply with FERPA and other unspecified privacy laws. Five years ago the Obama administration gutted FERPA by regulation, thus enabling almost unlimited disclosure of personally identifiable student data as long as certain terms are used to justify the disclosure. Do the bills’ sponsors not know this? If not, what are they doing writing legislation that relies on FERPA “protections”?

The bills require no particular system of data-security, leaving that up to the Office. But the Office will have an unenviable task, given that this wealth of extremely sensitive information (including student education data, Social Security numbers from the Labor Department, family income information from student-loan programs, and on and on) will be conveniently assembled into one neat package and therefore made enormously attractive to hackers. One might as well assemble all the crown jewels of Europe into one room and hope jewel thieves don’t notice.

If enacted, ANSWERS would be among the most intrusive longitudinal data systems in the country – only 16 states and D.C. have such an Orwellian system. But most Alabama parents understand that the government has no right to collect highly personal data on their children, or on adults for that matter, and give it to other agencies to track their journey through the workforce and through life. It is none of the government’s business. One would have expected Alabama officials to understand this as well.

An equally fundamental, and troubling, aspect of this contemplated data repository is its adoption of the statist “socialization,” workforce-development philosophy of education. Traditional education in America has been designed to develop each individual to the full extent of his talents, to expose him to the best of human thought; statist education is designed to train him to be a cog in the economic machine. Only if the State adopts the latter philosophy does it need a data repository to track citizens and see how the training is working out.

Fortunately, Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance has a strong history in a true educational system rather than a workforce-training system. His experience as Secretary of Education in Massachusetts back when that state educated children better than any other state in the nation should prepare him to recognize the dangers of the ANSWERS network.

In public statements so far, Sentance has focused on the critical problems with data security. The parents of Alabama students are counting on him to go further – to reel in the dangerous inclination of the all-powerful State to collect data on free-born citizens and use it to analyze them as though rats in a laboratory. If Sentance comes out against ANSWERS, that ill-advised scheme will probably go down. Alabama is not China. Supt. Sentance can ensure that it doesn’t become so.

The Kentucky Senate Passes Common Core Repeal?

Photo credit: Matt Turner (CC-By-2.0)

The Kentucky Senate last week voted 35-0 to pass SB 1 a bill that supposedly would repeal Common Core from the Bluegrass State according to the local media and the key sponsor. The Lexington Herald-Ledger reports:

Under Senate Bill 1, revisions would be made to the Kentucky academic standards in 2017-18 and every six years after that. Teams of educators from public schools and higher education would recommend changes with suggestions from citizens.

Senate Bill 1 would repeal the controversial Common Core academic standards, but not until the new standards are rolled out in a staggered fashion, the bill’s sponsor State Sen. Mike Wilson, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has said.

There was some key language added in committee that could be problematic.

The amendment passed in part reads, ” require the Department of Education to be responsible for implementing the process for reviewing academic standards and assessments; clarify the role of the standards and assessment recommendation committee and rename it the standards and assessments process review committee.”

Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute also noted the actual bill doesn’t clearly repeal Common Core.

SB 1 does vaguely state, “In adopting the amendments to KRS 158.6453 contained in Section 3 of this Act, the General Assembly intends, among other actions, to repeal the common core standards.” But there’s no clear and outright mandate for such a repeal.

The bill does require a new process to review all standards and make recommendations for changes as deemed necessary. However, there’s nothing in the bill that directly repeals Common Core.

There also is no guarantee that the standards-review teams established by the bill will recommend any substantial changes to the existing cut-and-paste adoptions of Common Core in Kentucky’s current public school standards. The review process might lead to materially changed standards, or it might not.

We’ve yet to see a review process that has led to an incredibly favorable process. Innes notes some other concerns such as the requirement for post-secondary educators is thin. Hopefully the Kentucky House will include clear repeal language and Kentucky will not be headed for a weak rebrand.

(2nd Update) 2017 Legislation on Standards, Assessments, and Data Privacy

States with relevant legislation.

Updated on 2/21/17 – see Kentucky and West Virginia.

A couple years ago I published a list of active bills in various statehouses related to Common Core and its aligned assessments. Over the two years I just included a tag for a particular year’s bills so people could click on that to check on the bills that we had written on. Needless to say we didn’t keep up very well so I’m bringing this back.

This is a list that I will update of filed legislation in state houses across the United States dealing with academic standards, local control, assessments and data privacy. My intention is just to give a bill number, a link to the bill, and a brief description of the bill and the last action on the bill. Inclusion on this list does not mean we support the particular bill, but only that our readers in each state should be aware of it, read it, and decide whether they should support or oppose it.  I plan to keep this list as updated as possible. Individual write-ups on different bills can be found at “2017 Bills.” If I missed a bill just shoot me an email with the bill number at info@truthinamericaneducation.com.

Arizona

SB1314 – A bill that seeks to tighten student data privacy. Last action: Passed out of Senate Education Committee.

Connecticut

HB06839 – An Act Concerning A Review And Report On The Implementation Of The Student Data Privacy Act. Last action: Referred to the Joint Committee on Education.

HB06769 – To amend the student data privacy act of 2016. Last action: Referred to Joint Committee on Education.

There are several identical bills related to allowing a one year delay in the implementation of the Student Data Privacy Act of 2016. Here is one example.

Florida

S 0584 – Authorizing certain students to be eligible for an alternative pathway to a standard high school diploma; requiring a school district to establish an Alternative Pathway to Graduation Review Committee for certain students; requiring each district school board to ensure certain instruction, to waive certain assessment results, and to administer a hard copy of the grade 10 ELA assessment or the statewide, standardized Algebra I EOC assessment for certain students, etc. Last action: Filed.

Indiana

SB 0536 – Replaces the ISTEP test program with an assessment program using the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills or the Iowa Tests of Educational Development, as appropriate for the grade level being tested. Repeals a statute establishing the ISTEP program citizens’ review committee. Repeals a provision defining the ISTEP program. Repeals an expiration provision. Makes conforming amendments. Last action: Assigned to Senate Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee.

HB1003 – Replaces the ISTEP test program after June 30, 2018, with a new statewide assessment program to be known as Indiana’s Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network (ILEARN). Repeals a provision defining the ISTEP program. Makes conforming amendments. Last action: Referred to the House Committee on Education.

Illinois

HB0332 – Amends the School Code to add provisions concerning student data privacy. Amends the Illinois School Student Records Act. Makes changes to the definition provisions. Sets forth provisions allowing disclosure of student records to researchers at an accredited post-secondary educational institution or an organization conducting research if specified requirements are met. Amends the Children’s Privacy Protection and Parental Empowerment Act to change the definition of “child” to mean a person under the age of 18 (instead of 16). Last action: Referred to the House Judiciary-Civil Committee.

Iowa

HJR 3 – A constitutional amendment that proposes “to provide home rule powers and authority for school districts.” Last action: Introduced into the House Education Committee (My write-up)

HF 26 – The bill authorizes a school board to exercise any broad or implied power, not inconsistent with the laws of the general assembly, related to the operation, control, and supervision of the public schools located within its district boundaries. Last action: Assigned a subcommittee. (My write-up)

SF 30 – This bill eliminates references and requirements to the Iowa Common Core or core curriculum or core content standards in the Iowa Code, but continues to direct the state board of education to adopt high school graduation requirements and assessment standards. It also creates a new task force for the development of a new assessment. Last action: assigned to subcommittee. (My write-up)

HF 139 – Requires any statewide assessment to be developed by the Iowa Testing Programs (ITP) at the University of Iowa. It would prohibit the use of Smarter Balanced or PARCC as a statewide, mandatory assessment. Last action: assigned to subcommittee. (My write-up)

HF 140 – Makes the Common Core math and English language arts (ELA) standards that have been adopted into the Iowa Core voluntary for Iowa’s public and state accredited non-public schools. Repeals Next Generation Science Standards. Last action: introduced into the House Education Committee. (My write-up)

SSB 1001 – Repeals the requirement for the State Board of Education to adopt rules requiring a statewide assessment starting in July 1, 2017 that is aligned to the Iowa Common Core Standards. Last action: Before Senate Education Committee.

Kentucky

SB 1 – This bill would establish new learning standards and evaluation procedures for schools and teachers. Last action: Passed Kentucky Senate 35-0 (see write-up).

Maine

LD412 – An Act To Require the Completion of Courses of Study in Home Economics and Industrial Arts Education Prior to Graduation from High School. Last action: N/A

LD 322 – An Act To Reintroduce Civics to High School Graduation Requirements. Last action: Passed House, referred to Senate Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

LD49 – Requires the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Last action: Passed by the House, being considered by the Senate.

Maryland

HB 705 – Authorizing a parent or guardian of a child with a disability who is nonverbal to refuse to allow the child to participate in a Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment or its equivalent in a public school; and requiring that the refusal be documented in the Individualized Education Program of the child. Last action: Assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 461 – Requiring the State Board of Education to adopt regulations limiting the amount of time in the aggregate that may be devoted to federal, State, and locally mandated assessments for each grade to 2% of the specified minimum required annual instructional hours; prohibiting time devoted to teacher-selected classroom quizzes and exams, portfolio reviews, or performance assessments from being counted toward the specified testing time limits; etc. Last action: Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee.

Michigan

HB 4192 – Education; curriculum; implementation of certain curriculum standards and assessments in place of common core curriculum standards and assessments in this state; require. Amends 1976 PA 451 (MCL 380.1 – 380.1852) by adding secs. 1278e & 1278f. Last action: Referred to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee and will have a hearing on 2/15/17.

SB 0081 – Education; curriculum; implementation of certain curriculum standards and assessments in place of common core curriculum standards and assessments in this state; require. Amends sec. 1278 of 1976 PA 451 (MCL 380.1278) & adds secs. 1278e, 1278f & 1278. Last action: Before Senate Government Operations Committee.

Mississippi 

HB502 – An Act To Prohibit The State Board Of Education From Making Application To The United States Department Of Education Seeking A Waiver Or Request For Funding That Would Require A Revision Of The State Subject Matter Curriculum Aligned With The K-12 Common Core State Standards Developed By The Common Core State Standards Initiative; To Authorize The Board To Request Authority From The United States Department Of Education To Revise Curriculum Requirements That Condition Receipt Of Funding Or Waivers Upon The Board’s Action To Revise The Curriculum To Align With The K-12 Common Core State Standards; And For Related Purposes. Last action: Died in committee

SB2035 – An Act To Provide That Beginning With The 2017-2018 School Year The State Board Of Education Shall Replace The Common Core State Standards With The Ela Standards In Place In Several States; To Provide That The State Of Mississippi Shall Retain Sole Control Over The Development, Establishment And Revision Of Curriculum Standards; And For Related Purposes. Last action: Died in committee.

SB2593 – An Act To Provide That Beginning With The 2017-2018 School Year The State Board Of Education Shall Replace The Common Core State Standards With The Ela Standards In Place In Several States; To Provide That The State Of Mississippi Shall Retain Sole Control Over The Development, Establishment And Revision Of Curriculum Standards; And For Related Purposes. Last action: Died in committee.

HB357 – An Act To Provide For The Repeal Of The Common Core State Standards Curriculum Adopted By The State Board Of Education And To Prohibit Any Further Implementation Or Use Of Such Standards; To Restrict The Use Of The Partnership For Assessment Of Readiness For College And Careers (parcc), Or Any Other Assessment Related To Or Based On The Common Core State Standards, As The Required Assessment Required Under The Statewide Testing Program; To Require The State Superintendent Of Public Education And The State Board Of Education To Initiate Procedures To Withdraw From The Parcc Consortium; To Provide That The State Of Mississippi Shall Retain Sole Control Over The Development, Establishment And Revision Of Curriculum And Academic Content Standards; To Provide That No Curriculum Standards Developed Outside The State Of Mississippi May Be Adopted Or Implemented Without Public Hearings Held In Each Congressional District, A One-year Open Comment Period And Open Hearings Before A Joint Committee Composed Of The House And Senate Education Committees, Followed By An Act Of The Legislature; To Impose Restrictions Upon The State Department Of Education With Regards To The Expenditure Of Certain Funds And Disclosing Personally Identifiable Information Pertaining To Students And Teachers; To Amend Section 37-1-3, Mississippi Code Of 1972, In Conformity Thereto; And For Related Purposes. Last action: Died in committee.

SB2581 – An Act To Authorize And Direct Public School Districts To Allow Parents And Legal Guardians Of Enrolled Students To Opt Out Of Common Core Aligned Curricula, Certain Student Data And The Release Of Information Concerning Their Children’s Personal Beliefs; To Prescribe A Form For The Student Privacy Protection Opt-out Request By The Parent Or Legal Guardian; To Direct The State Board Of Education To Issue Regulations Consistent With The Student Data Confidentiality Provisions Of This Act; And For Related Purposes. Last action: Died in committee.

HB279 – An Act To Prohibit The State Board Of Education And The State Department Of Education From Taking Any Further Action To Implement The Common Core And Mississippi College And Career Readiness Standards; To Require The State Board Of Education To Adhere To Pre-existing Procedures Under Its Apa To Review And Revise Our Curriculum Standards As Applicable Within Our Board Policies Beginning With Mathematics And English In 2017; To Prohibit The State Board And State Department Of Education From Expending Certain Federal Funds To Track Students Beyond Their K-12 Education And To Distribute Certain Student Identifiable Information; To Amend Section 37-17-6, Mississippi Code Of 1972, To Delete References To Common Core And To Delete The Requirement That The State Department Of Education Form A Single Accountability System By Combining The State System With The Federal System; To Bring Forward Section 37-177-5, Mississippi Code Of 1972, For The Purpose Of Possible Amendments; And For Related Purposes. Last action: Died in committee.

HB601 – An Act To Create New Section 37-16-2, Mississippi Code Of 1972, To Require The State Board Of Education To Contract With A Single Entity For The Development And Administration Of The Act Aspire Assessment Components As The Comprehensive Statewide Assessment Program For Public School Students In Grades 3-10 As Well As Algebra I And English Ii, Which Is Aligned To The Mississippi College And Career-ready Standards; To Require The State Department Of Education To Provide A Job Skills Assessment System That Allows Students To Earn A Nationally Recognized Career Readiness Certificate Credentialing Workplace Employability Skills; To Require The Act Aspire As The Statewide Assessment Program To Be Fully Implemented In All Public Schools In The 2017-2018 School Year; To Amend Sections 37-16-1, 37-16-3, 37-16-4, 37-16-5, 37-16-7, 37-16-9 And 37-16-17, Mississippi Code Of 1972, Which Relate To The Statewide Testing Program, And Sections 37-3-49, 37-15-38, 37-17-6, 37-18-1, 37-18-3, 37-20-5, 37-20-7 And 37-28-45, Mississippi Code Of 1972, In Conformity To The Preceding Provisions Of This Act; To Prohibit The State Board Of Education From Contracting With Any Entity For The Development Of A Statewide Assessment Whose Alignment Of Curriculum And Testing Standards Are In Compliance With The Partnership For Assessment Of Readiness For College And Careers (parcc) Without Express Legislative Authority; To Amend Section 37-16-11, Mississippi Code Of 1972, To Provide For The Issuance Of A Standard Diploma To Certain Exceptional Children With Intellectual Impairments Who Have Ieps Upon Meeting The Educational Requirements Of Their Iep And Those Established By The State Board Of Education; And For Related Purposes. Last action: Died in committee.

There are additional bills, some are repetitive, they have all been killed in committee.

New Hampshire

SB 44 – Prohibiting the state from requiring implementation of common core standards. Last action: Before Senate Education Committee.

HB 207 – Prohibiting the implementation of common core in public elementary and secondary schools. Last action: Hearing scheduled for 2/14/17.

New Jersey

A2650 – Requires high school students to be assessed using college placement cut scores to determine readiness for college-level course work, and Commissioner of Education to develop plan to improve college and career counseling for students. Last action: To Assembly Higher Education Committee.

A10121 – Requires school districts and charter schools to annually provide to parents or guardians of enrolled students information on certain tests to be administered during the school year. Last action: Referred to Assembly Education Committee.

New Mexico

HB211 – Requires the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Last Action: Referred to House Education Committee.

New York

A03702/S03912 – Requires disclosure of testing items in Common Core tests given in New York (50% after the first year the test is given, full disclosure after the second year.) Last action: Assigned to the Assembly Education Committee.

A01098 – Establishes the common core state standards evaluation task force for the purpose of studying the implementation of the common core state standards; requires such task force report to the Governor and Legislature. Last action: Referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

A01719 – Relates to teacher evaluations and implementation of the common core learning standards. Last action: Assigned to Assembly Education Committee.

S02091 – Enacts the common core parental refusal act. Last action: Assigned to Senate Education Committee.

A03644 – Relates to creating the commission on exceptional standards for New York state. Last action: Assigned to Assembly Education Committee.

A03623 – Relates to the common core state standards initiative. Last action: Referred to Assembly Education Committee.

S01942 – Allows parents, legal guardians or school districts to opt children with an individualized education program out of the “common core standards” and certain testing. Last action: Referred to Senate Education Committee.

A02312 – Relates to establishing the standardized testing transparency act; makes an appropriation therefor. Last action: Referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

North Dakota

HB 1432 – Repeals Common Core. Last action: Reported back, do not pass, placed on calendar (My write-up on the bill is here)

Oregon

HB2368 – Prohibits Department of Education from requiring school districts to align instruction or assessments with common core state standards and from penalizing school districts for failure to align instruction or assessments with common core state standards. Declares emergency, effective July 1, 2017. Last action: Referred to the House Education Committee.

HB2587 – Modifies state educational goals to take into consideration students’ aspirations, to provide students with well-rounded education and to provide students with sufficient instructional time to meet students’ educational goals. Expands state’s mission of education beyond high school. Last action: Referred to the House Education Committee.

HB 2229 – Requires school districts to offer instruction in financial literacy. Directs school districts and public charter schools to offer sufficient instruction in financial literacy to ensure that every student who elects to receive instruction in financial literacy is able to receive instruction. Takes effect July 1, 2018. Last action: Referred to the House Education Committee.

South Dakota

SB 126 – This bill requires the South Dakota Department of Education to use a competitive bidding process when acquiring academic assessments.

Texas

SB 605 – Allows public review and removal of Common Core-aligned curriculum. Last action: Filed.

HB 1069 – Relating to compliance with prohibitions regarding the use of common core state standards in public schools. Last action: Filed.

Washington

HB1012 – Eliminating the use of the high school science assessment as a graduation prerequisite. Last action: Referred to the House Education Committee.

HB 1046 – Eliminates requirement to pass state assessments to graduate. Allows multiple options. Last action: Referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

HB 1415 – To simplify existing state assessment requirements and administer the ACT test as the statewide high school assessment for reading or language arts, mathematics, and science; and (2) For the administration of the ACT test to be for federal accountability purposes and does not intend for the ACT test to be used in determining whether a student is eligible to graduate from high school. Last action: Referred to the House Education Committee.

HB1793 – Increasing academic rigor and streamlining assessment requirements for high school students. (This bill entrenches Smarter Balanced in Washington.) Last action: Referred to the House Education Committee.

SB 5202/HB 1572 – Directs OSPI to seek approval of using SAT or ACT in place of the SBAC assessments. If approved by the feds, the ELA/Math and Science portions of the national tests can be used in place for graduation purposes. SBE sets the cutoff score for passing. Last action: Referred to each chamber’s education committee.

SB5673/HB1886 – Moves the responsiblity for setting standards and assessments from the Washington State Board of Education to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Last action: Referred to each chamber’s education committee.

West Virginia

HB 2144 – A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-1A-1, §18-1A-2, §18-1A-3, §18-1A-4 and §18-1A-5, all relating to academic content standards in public schools; discontinuing and prohibiting the use of Common Core academic content standards; adopting alternative academic content standards; discontinuing the use of Common Core based assessments; establishing a committee and process for developing alternate statewide assessments of student progress; prohibiting the state board or any public school from sharing student data without parental consent; and prohibiting acceptance of federal funding if such funding is conditioned upon sharing student data without parental consent. Last action: Referred to the House of Delegate’s Education and Finance Committees.

SB 18 – This would change West Virginia’s assessment from Smarter Balanced to ACT (for 11th graders) and ACT Aspire (for 3rd-8th graders). Last action: Referred to the Senate Education and Finance committees.

HB 2443 – This bill repeals Common Core and replaces it with the 2001 Massachusetts ELA Standards and the 2005 California math standards. Last action: Referred to the House Education and Finance Committees

Wyoming

HB0008 – AN ACT relating to education; amending requirements of state data security plan to ensure privacy of student data collected; requiring policies for the collection, access, privacy, security and use of student data by school districts; accordingly requiring school districts to adopt and enforce policies for the collection, access, privacy, security and use of student data; and providing for an effective date. Last action: Passed House, referred to Senate Education Committee

West Virginia to Move Away From Smarter Balanced

Another state pulls away from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The West Virginia Board of Education last Thursday voted to discontinue its use in the Mountain State. They are also reducing the amount of testing they require.

The West Virginia Department of Education published the following press release:

The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) took several actions regarding statewide testing at its meeting today. The WVBE voted to eliminate English language arts and mathematics statewide assessments in grades 9 and 10. Beginning during the spring 2017 testing window, high school students will only be tested in grade 11. The change puts West Virginia in line with federal requirements to test at least once at the high school level. The WVBE also voted to move away from the Smarter Balanced assessment beginning with the 2017-18 school year and directed the West Virginia Department of Education to explore options to adopt another statewide assessment.

In response to comments received during a 30-day public comment period on assessment policy 2340, the WVBE voted to remove policy language which would have utilized end-of-course exams in selected high school courses. The public overwhelmingly did not support the use of end-of-course exams within comments received.

The WVBE also approved a change in grade levels for the statewide science assessment from grade 4 to 5 in elementary school and grade 6 to 8 in middle school. Mountain State students will now be tested at the end of each programmatic level in science, resulting in a more accurate depiction of how well students master science skills.

“As a board, we are committed to finding the best assessment solution for the students in West Virginia,” said State Board of Education President Tom Campbell. “With that goal in mind, our board will listen to the public and our state’s educators who always have students’ best interest at heart.”

Smarter Balanced is now down to 16 (14 governing, two advisory) states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bureau of Indian Education. Smarter Balanced at one time had 31 states that participated in its consortium.

It is unclear what assessment West Virginia will end up using next school year.

Update: SB 18 was introduced to change the tests to ACT and ACT Aspire. The U.S. Department of Education questioned whether ACT Aspire actually aligned to Alabama’s standards (which is Common Core) so it’s hard to see West Virginia who also implemented Common Core go that route. Another testament to the *flexibility* of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Betsy DeVos, No ESSA Did Not End Common Core

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that Congress ended Common Core when they passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Seriously, she said this.

DeVos told Frank Beckmann on Detroit’s WJR News Talk 760 AM Wednesday that ESSA “essentially does away with the notion of a Common Core.” She also said that ESSA “encourages states to set forth their own levels of achievement expectation.”

Here’s the kicker… she said the approval of state plans is a “good and important role for the federal government.”

Somebody tell me where that is at in the Constitution? DeVos is in error, and if President Trump is serious about dealing with Common Core he will set her straight. This is a complete 180 from the agenda he set forth and what she said she planned to do.

At a post-election Trump rally last December DeVos said her agenda included, “finally putting an end to the federalized Common Core.”

What happened? Did U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) whisper sweet lies in her ear? Perhaps it is the craptastic staff that has been assembled under her.

Did simply lie herself? Either she lied or she is being lied to…. Neither are stupid, but to say ESSA deals with Common Core is stupid.

Truth in American Education shared early our concerns with ESSA.

As a requirement of the ESSA, states must “demonstrate” to the Secretary that they have adopted standards that are aligned to the same definition of “college and career” standards used to force states into adopting Common Core under NCLB waivers.

Also, “The state accountability system must be structured as per the federal bill.”

Then, we noted, “Bill language appears to require standards that align with career and technical education standards, indicating that the standards must align to the federally approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.”

Arnie Duncan told Politico Pro as the outgoing Secretary of Education under President Obama that ESSA accomplished the “core” of what they were trying to do.

I’m stunned. at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it…

…if you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in (ESSA) are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e.,Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad. For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.

Peter Cunningham, the former assistant secretary for communications at the U.S. Department of Education, served under outgoing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says to say ESSA gets rid of Common Core is nonsensical.

He wrote in an op/ed he wrote shortly after the bill was passed:

(Alexander) begins an op-ed in the Tennessean with the outlandish claim that he ran for reelection last year on a promise to “repeal the federal Common Core mandate and reverse the trend toward a national school board.”

Sorry, Senator, but there never was a Common Core mandate so your new law can’t repeal what didn’t exist.

There was an incentive to adopt “college- and career-ready” standards in the Obama administration’s Race to the Top grant program and some conservative pundits and politicians viewed this incentive as “coercive.” But it wasn’t a mandate. It was voluntary and 46 states and D.C. leaped at the opportunity to compete for those dollars by adopting higher standards.

Ironically, the new law that the senator from Tennessee is so proud of, the Every Student Succeeds Act, now mandates the very thing he rails against. Under the new law, every state must adopt “college- and career-ready” standards. Thus, the new law all but guarantees that Common Core State Standards—or a reasonable imitation under a different name—will likely remain in place in most states.

So Congress did not get rid of the notion of Common Core, they codified it and pat themselves on the back while doing it. I would also suggest that Secretary DeVos brush off a Constitution and read Article I, Section 8. Education is not an enumerated power of Congress. You can’t really consider it to be covered under the general welfare clause when you consider the founders recognized, at the time, education as a local matter.

If she continues to toe this line she is either being naive at which case she is unqualified or she is a liar which would disqualify her in my opinion.

We Need to Thoughtfully “Terminate” the U.S. Department of Education

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

I wrote a news piece about the bill Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) dropped last week at Caffeinated Thoughts. His bill was certainly an attention-getter, as well as, short and sweet.

H.R. 899 simply says, “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

Man, I wish all bills could be this short. I would even settle for just a few sentences. As much joy as this sentence coming to fruition would give me; I would like to suggest that we take a step back a moment.

We have outstanding existing federal education law on the books, what will happen to that? This bill doesn’t address that.

Will federal education money be gone? No, we’ll need an appropriations bill to deal with that.

I don’t want to cut the head off of Hydra to just have more heads pop up in other departments. I want to see the beast slayed once and for all. So one well placed swing is not going to get rid of Fed Ed.

So I’m (obviously) not saying don’t terminate the U.S. Department of Education. We just need to consider what will happen with all of the things on the books that give the department its reason for existence. I’d rather Congress give further direction than have things decided by administrative rule.

I’m just not a ready, fire, aim sort of guy which is what this glorious piece of legislation feels like to me.