On State Takeovers of School Districts

Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana

Recently there has been a number of high-profile cases of states taking over school districts. The Kentucky State Board of Education will soon decide whether or not they will take over Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville), a move that both parents and teachers object to.

The Indiana Legislature voted in May to strip power from Gary and Muncie school district’s school boards. In Muncie’s case, Ball State University has been given control. In Gary’s case, MGT Consulting Group, based in Tallahassee, Fla., a $6.2 million contract to serve as Gary’s emergency manager. The emergency management team leader, former educator Peggy Hinckley (a native of Lake County where Gary is located), is the sole decision-maker.

The State of Louisiana took over New Orleans Public Schools after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 transitioning many of the public schools to charter schools. It was not a success. Mercedes Schneider writes in The Huffington Post:

An overarching goal of state takeover of Louisiana schools was for the state to assume control of most New Orleans public schools– which it did in 2005– and to convert all of those formerly local-board-run schools into charter schools– which it did by May 2014.

Louisiana’s RSD New Orleans (RSD-NO) was an experiment, one that was supposed to “turn around” those failing schools and make the RSD charter conversion a modern-day miracle.

By 2017– twelve years post-Katrina– it is clear that the experiment has failed. There is no incredible test-score-based miracle, and in no place is such failure more obvious than in the average ACT composite scores for RSD-NO in general and its high schools individually.

The state of Michigan controlled Detroit Public Schools from 1999-2006 and 2009-2016, the newly formed Detroit Public Schools Community District has an elected school board.

Tennessee has experience in taking over schools, with Memphis Public Schools being the largest district, and two studies show it is not working.

A 2016, paper by Michigan State University researchers studying the Detroit and Memphis takeovers concluded:

The formation of the EAA and ASD reflected the leadership of state and external partners in both urban districts. In practice, their introduction has added yet another district-like bureaucracy to the complex and evolving systems of school governance in both places. Key challenges involving finances, competition among schools, leadership turnover and lack of district-wide governance remain unaddressed by state policies.

The first study from Vanderbilt University cast doubt on the state’s achievement school district plan, The Tennessean reported in 2015:

District-run turnaround efforts of low-performing schools have yielded better results than that of Tennessee’s Achievement School District.

The finding, released Tuesday in a policy report by Vanderbilt University, casts doubt on the effectiveness of the district meant to help improve the bottom 5 percent of all schools in the state. The study, however, adds that most reform efforts take three to five years to change a school.

“Some years results are bouncing down or up, and across all years the change is basically a zero,” said Ron Zimmer, a professor of policy and education. “The overall story is that we’re not seeing an effect.”

And although he said reform efforts generally take years, district-run efforts have yielded positive results in a relatively short time.

A study from the Tennessee Education Research Alliance released on Tuesday shows three years later it still isn’t working. From The Tennessean:

The finding from a Tennessee Education Research Alliance research brief released Tuesday reinforces what researchers discovered in 2015 about the district over the course of three years. That district-run turnaround efforts of the state’s lowest-performing schools yield greater results than that of Tennessee’s state-run district

“The model that said to bring in a new manager and them give autonomy and good things will happen doesn’t work,” said Gary Henry, a Vanderbilt University researcher on the study and expert in education policy.

It brings about a moment where Tennessee’s education leaders must refocus on how Tennessee’s Achievement School District goes about its work because the threat of a state takeover has spurred action in districts, according to researchers of the study.

So the threat of a takeover appears to do more good than the actual takeover itself.

Local control in education is waning nationally and a state takeover of a local school district takes away the voice of the taxpayers and parents when elected boards are either abolished or neutered.

This is not to say each of these school districts were without problems, that certainly is not the case, but in the case of school takeovers, we see that the loss of local control does not produce the results the state promises.

Centralization fails yet again.

More From The Mother-May-I File

Politico highlighted three states seeking a testing waiver from the U.S. Department of Education under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) yesterday in their Morning Education daily update.

Florida, Kentucky and New Jersey are all asking federal officials for flexibility when it comes to testing in their plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Florida and New Jersey both want more wiggle room for a provision of the law that allows eighth-grade students enrolled in advanced math to avoid “double testing,” letting them take an advanced math test for accountability and avoid taking their grade-level test. In a waiver request, New Jersey says it wants to extend that rule to lower middle school grades, not just eighth grade. “Since so many New Jersey middle school students have been successful in advanced-level mathematics coursework, it is in the best interest of students to administer end-of-course mathematics assessments that align with students’ coursework rather than the grade-level exam,” the state says in its request.

— Florida says in its waiver request that it wants to do the same, in addition to including science tests. The state is also asking for flexibility on how it tests English-language learners. POLITICO Florida reported early last month that the state wants an expansive waiver from federal requirements in order to preserve a school grading system developed under former Gov. Jeb Bush.

— Kentucky is seeking a waiver of an ESSA provision that caps at 1 percent the number of students with disabilities that states can test on alternate assessments.

I thought ESSA was supposed to do away with the need for waivers?

I guess not.

Overemphasizing Reading as a Skill

Dr. Gary Houchens is a  former teacher, principal, and school district administrator now serves as Associate Professor of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research at Western Kentucky University. He is also a member of the Kentucky State Board of Education.

He discusses Kentucky’s upcoming review of the Common Core English/Language Arts and Math standards required by SB 1 that passed this year and signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin.

He makes an observation about reading instruction that I think is spot-on.

I’ve grown deeply concerned about a shift that has taken place in reading instruction in recent years and the impact I think that shift has had on students of poverty. Specifically, I believe that an over-emphasis on reading as a skill has caused schools to neglect social studies, science, and arts in early grades, ultimately depriving many students of the domain-specific knowledge they need for reading comprehension and academic success in later grades.

Content matters. Houchens continues citing E.D. Hirsch:

Hirsch argues there is no such thing as a generic skill for finding the main idea in a passage. Citing research summarized by Daniel Willingham, he says that such generic skills can be effectively taught in as little as ten lessons, at which point instructional time should shift toward teaching students the domain-specific content knowledge they need to actually understand complex reading passages in later grades.

It’s also just the overall approach seen in Common Core and education reformers who promote those standards. They emphasize skills over content. They don’t want to encourage “rote” memorization of facts that students can Google. Instead, they’ll argue, let’s teach critical thinking skills.

This trend was prevalent when I reviewed Iowa’s new Social Studies standards. There was little content to be found.

Exactly what are students to think critically about or, as Houchens points out, comprehend as they get into Middle School and High School?

Kentucky Legislature Sends a Common Core Review Bill to Governor

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

An update on SB 1, after it passed in the Kentucky Senate 35-0 back in February it was amended in the Kentucky House and then passed 94-0 on March 15th. Since it was amended the Senate had to take it up again and they passed it on Wednesday 37-0.

The bill was then delivered to Governor Matt Bevin for his signature.

What does it do?

Here is how the Associated Press described it:

Kentucky lawmakers have wrapped up work on an education bill that would gradually repeal Common Core standards and give school districts more control in how to turn around low-performing schools.

Here’s what the bill calls for:

Beginning in fiscal year 2017-2018, and every six (6) years thereafter, the Kentucky Department of Education shall implement a process for reviewing Kentucky’s academic standards and the alignment of corresponding assessments for possible revision or replacement to ensure alignment with postsecondary readiness standards necessary for global competitiveness and with state career and technical education standards.

They get into some specifics:

The revisions to the content standards shall:

  1. Focus on critical knowledge, skills, and capacities needed for success in the global economy;
  2. Result in fewer but more in-depth standards to facilitate mastery learning;
  3. Communicate expectations more clearly and concisely to teachers, parents, students, and citizens;
  4. Be based on evidence-based research;
  5. Consider international benchmarks; and
  6. Ensure that the standards are aligned from elementary to high school to postsecondary education so that students can be successful at each education level.

I’m seeing a ton of Common Core advocate catch phrases here. Granted if they actually consider international benchmarking then they should be throwing Common Core on the garbage heap. Having fewer standards are better. “Evidence-based research” is good if it goes beyond the research provided by the National Governors’ Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. Also, having elementary school be the starting point for standards should cause some improvements with early elementary standards. Previously it appeared the process was the exact opposite.

So I don’t want to say this is all bad, but it isn’t a repeal.

The review process looks very similar to what I’ve seen in other states. It leaves the door open to replacement, but it is set up to primarily be just a revision of the standards.

If I lived in Kentucky I wouldn’t get too excited about this. Granted it’s better than status quo at the moment, but, in my opinion, this bill is far from what was promised.

(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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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


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

Alexander: Assume You Can Do What You Want Under ESSA

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Photo credit: AMSF2011

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Photo credit: AMSF2011 (CC-By-2.0)

Education Week reports this week about some interesting comments U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, made to Kentucky lawmakers.

“Don’t assume you can’t do anything,” Alexander told the lawmakers.

And in a similar vein, he said that if the Education Department rejects Kentucky’s state ESSA plan without a clear rationale, “You can take the department to court, and I hope that you do. I hope that you don’t have to. We’ll have a new administration [in 2017].”

Well, that’s nice, but the fact is states can’t just do what they want under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Any ambiguity, and there is plenty, is the fault of lawmakers who passed this bill rallying around leadership talking points instead of listening to activists expressing concerns as they read the bill.

That said, I do agree with his advice, states should try to push the envelope and then sue the U.S. Department of Education if it does deny their plans and reforms.

Kentucky’s Achievement Gap Increases Five Years Post-Common Core


Kentucky was an earlier adopter of the Common Core State Standards. They adopted them to replace the state’s English Language Arts and math standards over five years ago.  The state has seen a widening black-white achievement gap since then.

The Hechinger Report writes:

In spring 2015, in the elementary grades, 33 percent of black students were proficient in reading, versus 58 percent of white students; in math, the breakdown was 31 percent to 52 percent, according to Kentucky Department of Education figures.

And those gaps, in many cases, have widened, according to an analysis of state testing data by The Hechinger Report and theCourier-Journal.

In Jefferson County Public Schools in 2011-12, the first year of Common Core testing, 25 percent of black third-graders were proficient or better in reading, compared to 54 percent of white third-graders. By 2015, when the majority of those same students likely had reached sixth grade, the percentage of proficient black sixth-graders had inched up 2 points while that of white sixth-graders had increased more than 4 points.

The students at Dunn Elementary, located in a leafy and affluent section of Louisville, had average scores about 20 points higher than the rest of the state. From 2012 to 2015, its white and black students saw improvement on reading tests, and the black students in many cases outscored their black peers in the rest of the district. But at the same time, white students at Dunn scored proficient or better in both math and reading at more than double the percentage of black students.

Closing these gaps was one of the goals of Common Core reform.

In the past, “Schools that were in low-income areas and predominately served students of color often had very low standards for their students that did not prepare them adequately. When the [Common Core] standards were first introduced, I sent them to my sister, a college professor of English, and she wrote back right away, ‘Yeah, this is what you need to succeed in college,’ ” said Sonja Brookins Santelises, vice president of K-12 policy and practice at the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based research group.

Now, Kentucky finds itself at a crossroads. With four years’ worth of testing to show after its quick embrace of Common Core, it’s clear that raising standards was not enough to help all learners.

The last sentence in this excerpt is a major understatement. There wasn’t (and still isn’t) any empirical evidence that shows standards will help increase student achievement. While Common Core advocates care to admit it we now have evidence in Kentucky that a one-size-fits-all approach to education reform has made the black-white achievement gap worse.  Whether it has actually helped Kentucky students in general is still very much up for debate.

Dismantling Common Core Is a Top Priority for Kentucky Senate


AP reports that the Kentucky Senate Republicans have introduced a bill that would dismantle the Common Core State Standards. The Republicans, who hold majority status in the Senate, have made it their top priority.

This is in a state that was an early adopter of the Common Core and have seen dismal results since. Kentuckians also has a new anti-Common Core Governor in Matt Bevin.  The Kentucky House of Representatives is still Democrat led, but it’s possible that bipartisan opposition could be raised.

AP writes:

Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Wilson said Wednesday the bill would create a new Kentucky-based system to oversee school standards and assessments. Wilson says the goal is to boost the number of students deemed college and career ready after graduating from high school.

Wilson says the current system has created a “quagmire of instructional compliance rather than results.”

Kentucky’s academic standards are based on the national Common Core standards.

The bill is the top priority of Senate Republicans in the 60-day session that began Tuesday.

Common Core Has Improved College Readiness in Kentucky?

kentucky-flagKentucky has been getting considerable attention as the first state to implement the Common Core State Standards. Across the nation, people are looking to Kentucky, which was the first state to implement Common Core aligned testing in the 2011-12 school term, to see early indications of the real performance of Common Core.

But, while questions remain about the accuracy of Kentucky’s new Common Core tests, known as the Kentucky Performance Rating for Education Progress, or KPREP tests, the state has other college readiness test data available from far better established assessments from the ACT, Inc. Those other college readiness tests include the actual ACT college entrance test, given to all of the state’s 11th grade students, and two other tests known as EXPLORE, given to all Kentucky eighth grade students, and PLAN, which is given to all of the state’s 10th graders.

EXPLORE and PLAN have been in use in Kentucky since the 2006-07 school year. Statewide use of the ACT came on line several years thereafter.

Like the ACT, the EXPLORE and PLAN also offer Readiness Benchmark Scores, which are linked to actual college readiness data from the ACT college entrance test. Meeting EXPLORE or PLAN Benchmarks provides a good indication that students as of the eighth grade or tenth grade are progressing on track to eventually be college ready.

Obviously, if Common Core is working in Kentucky, scores on valid college readiness tests like EXPLORE and PLAN should be increasing.

But, that’s not happening.

This graph shows the percentages of Kentucky students that met or exceeded the EXPLORE Benchmark Scores in English, math, reading and science over the years that Kentucky administered this assessment statewide. The recent trends since the onset of Common Core around 2011-12 don’t look good.


The 2014-15 school year results for Common Core subjects of English, math and reading are all uniformly lower than in several previous years. For example:

English has been in steady decline for the past two years.

Reading performance is notably lower now than last year and actually is also lower than results for all but one year since 2009-10, as well.

Math performance also dropped from 2013-14 and with only one exception, the 2014-15 math Benchmark performance is worse than the performance in any of the previous five years.

These decays in performance in Common Core subjects raise concerns about the true functioning of Common Core in the Bluegrass State. The latest scores from the 2014-15 term are for the fourth year of full Common Core operation in Kentucky and the state’s education program should be stabilizing. We should not see such decay on a true college readiness test if Common Core is really working in Kentucky. However, the graph above indicates that at the eighth grade level, at least, Common Core in Kentucky has a problem.

Things only looks slightly better for Common Core in the PLAN results. While math has shown some improvement, both English and reading scores also decayed in the 2014-15 school term.

By the way, science isn’t specifically covered by Common Core although Common Core materials do include reading suggestions for the subject. However, Kentucky has not performed well on EXPLORE science in the past two years, either. The state’s best science performance was posted by the eighth grade class of 2012-13, two years earlier. There was a notable, 4-point drop in the percentage of Kentucky students meeting the science benchmark between 2012-13 and the newest results. PLAN science has been essentially flat since Kentucky’s Common Core testing with KPREP started in 2011-12, as well.

Unfortunately, except for English, disturbingly low percentages of Kentucky’s students meet the EXPLORE and PLAN Benchmarks. With its low current Benchmark Scores, Kentucky needs to be making lots of improvement in all tested subject areas, but that clearly isn’t happening, at least so far, in Kentucky’s Common Core era.

Data Source:

Excel Files for Kentucky’s EXPLORE and PLAN Benchmark results are available in the “Assessment” section on the Kentucky Department of Education’s “Supplemental Data” web page.


Matt Bevin Intends to See Common Core Removed from Kentucky Ed Landscape

matt-bevinShortly after I wrote my piece on what seemed to be a conflict of interest for Matt Bevin, the GOP nominee in Kentucky’s Governor’s race, I was contacted by someone I trust who has worked with him directly on his plan to eliminate Common Core in Kentucky.  They were aware of the facts of this claim which they state is baseless.  Through this contact Bevin provided Truth in American Education his statement.

This company is a small, private company that one of my investment funds made an investment in years ago. It was a “start-up” company and sadly, from an investment standpoint, it still essentially is.

The company formed from the effort of two English teachers collaborating to help English and Literature teachers effectively incorporate and administer the use of technology to assess learning in the classroom, something that has apparently been difficult to do in the modern education era, without devaluing literary content or instruction.

At the time the company started, and at the time of my investment, Common Core did not even exist.

This little company has struggled to get off the ground and has never been profitable. Their suite of products have apparently been used both by school systems that are trying to comply with Common Core standards and those that are not trying to comply with those standards.

Ironically, the company was designed to help with assessment by teachers and this has been one of the many weaknesses of CC. I think this is why the company has apparently found itself intertwined with the CC standards. It happens to offer a product that helps with assessment.

My investment in this company is completely illiquid, which means I could not sell it if I wanted to. I truly hope they succeed for many reasons, regardless of who embraces their suite of products. The existence and viability of independent assessment companies are vital to a fluid and autonomous approach to education. Everyone benefits when options and alternative ideas exist beyond the testing giants, and will be especially so as states and districts transition from the monolithic Common Core approach and return to local decision making.

Again, I do not have any involvement with the company beyond an indirect financial investment.

My position on Common Core and its federal encroachment is very public and unequivocal and has never changed. My intent is to see that these standards are removed from the educational landscape in Kentucky.

Matt Bevin – Republican nominee for Kentucky Governor

After reading this I would have to say that I agree the original accusation made by one of his local newspapers is baseless and they didn’t have all of the facts.  If I were a Kentucky resident I would have no problem voting for Bevin.  In Kentucky’s race for Governor Bevin is the only candidate who will move to rid the state of Common Core.  Kentucky friends you should be thrilled that you have a clear choice.