Common Core Bills Filed in Iowa House

iowa-golden-dome

Originally posted at Iowans for Local Control.

State Representative Tedd Gassman (R-Scarville) introduced a bill, HF 2141, that directs the Iowa Department of Education to pull out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  It has been cosponsored by State Representatives Sandy Salmon (R-Denver), Dwayne Alons (R-Hull), Larry Sheets (R-Moulton), Greg Heartsill (R-Columbia), Dave Maxwell (R-Gibson), Tom Shaw (R-Laurens), John Landon (R-Ankeny), Ralph Watts (R-Adel), Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) and Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls).

This bill has been assigned to a subcommittee whose members are:

They can also be reached on the Capitol switchboard – (515) 281-3221.

Please contact these members and respectfully ask them to support HF 2141 so it can be considered by the entire House Education Committee.  Focus on the cost of the assessments.  The Iowa Department of Education plans, if allowed by the State Legislature, to utilize the full suite of assessments provided by Smarter Balanced which will cost Iowans $27.30 per student per assessment.  Iowa currently pays $3.50 per student per assessment for the Iowa Assessments.  We simply can not afford this.  Also this does not take into consideration the cost of scoring the assessments and not every school district in Iowa is set up to meet the technology requirements.

Also there are data collection concerns related to Smarter Balanced agreement with the U.S. Department of Education.

The 2nd bill that Gassman introduced is HF 2140.  It would make the Iowa Core (along with the Common Core) voluntary and strikes language in the Iowa Code giving the State Board of Education the authority to change the standards.

This bill is cosponsored by State Representatives Heartsill, Schultz, Maxwell, Salmon, Alons, Sheets, Shaw, Fisher, Landon, Watts, Rogers and Stan Gustafson (R-Cumming).

It also has been assigned to a subcommittee consisting of:

They can also be reached on the Capitol switchboard – (515) 281-3221.

Please respectfully request that they support HF 2140.  We encourage you to focus on these points:

  • It restores local control.  School districts can tailor standards according to the needs of their students and exceed the quality of the current Iowa Core with the subpar Common Core Math and English-Language Arts standards.  Parents should be able to have a voice in what their child learns and how.  Education policy should be decided by those who are most directly accountable to the people – elected school boards.
  • Iowa should retain sovereignty over our standards, not cede control to special interest groups and trade organizations or to the Federal government.  This is done best keeping the decision-making at the local level.  An unelected board should not be allowed to function as the executive and legislative branch.  There is no accountability.
  • The quality of the Common Core State Standards is questionable.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the validation committee for the Common Core English Language Arts standards, states that the ELA standards would put our students college readiness at risk.  Dr. James Milgram, a member of the validation committee for the Common Core Math Standards, will not adequately prepare our students for STEM.
  • The Common Core Math & ELA standards (in Iowa Core) are developmentally inappropriate for younger students.
  • Our U.S. History standards have been given an F and our science standards a D by the Fordham Institute.  Local school districts can do better.
  • It’s data-less reform.  We are rolling out a grand experiment in our schools.  There is no evidence that centralizing education around a set of common standards will raise student achievement.  The Common Core State Standards in particular were never field tested and they were written by a lead team of writers with no classroom experience.  Only two of the five lead writers had experience writing standards.

Contact Iowa House-Senate Conference Committee to Strip SBAC Language from Bill

The Iowa House and Iowa Senate have put together a conference committee to iron out differences in their respective education reform bills.

Of specific concern is a provision in the amended HF 215 which grants the Iowa Department of Education authority to mandate a different assessment (from what is already required by state law)  to local schools which paves the way for Smarter Balanced Assessments.  We knew this would require statutory change.  This would further entrench the Common Core State Standards in Iowa.

The language on assessments and data collection begins on line 30-3 of HF 215.

Annually, the department shall report state data
 30  4 for each indicator in the condition of education report.
 30  5 Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall specify that
 30  6 the approved district=wide assessment of student progress
 30  7 administered for purposes of this paragraph the indicators
 30  8  shall be the assessment utilized by school districts statewide
 30  9 in the school year beginning July 1, 2011, or a successor
 30 10 assessment administered by the same assessment provider.
 30 11    (2)  Notwithstanding subparagraph (1), for the school
 30 12 year beginning July 1, 2014, and each succeeding school
 30 13 year, the rules shall provide that all students enrolled
 30 14 in school districts in grades three through eleven shall,
 30 15 within forty=five days of the end of the school year, be
 30 16 administered an assessment that at a minimum assesses the
 30 17 indicators identified in this paragraph "b"; is aligned with
 30 18 the Iowa common core standards in both content and rigor;
 30 19 is developed by a consortium in which the state of Iowa is
 30 20 a participant; accurately describes student achievement and
 30 21 growth for purposes of the school, the school district, and
 30 22 state accountability systems; and provides valid, reliable,
 30 23 and fair measures of student progress toward college or career
 30 24 readiness. 
 30 25    (3)  The director shall establish a task force to review
 30 26 and assist with the final development and implementation of
 30 27 the assessment specified in subparagraph (2).  The task force
 30 28 members shall include but not be limited to teachers, school
 30 29 administrators, business leaders, representatives of state
 30 30 agencies, and members of the general public.  This subparagraph
 30 31 is repealed July 1, 2015.

I encourage you to contact the members of the conference committee as they are meeting TODAY.

Updated: The second paragraph was updated to further clarify what the Iowa Code required.

Cross-posted from Iowans for Local Control

Action Needed on Iowa Education Reform Bill

Below is an action alert from one of our partners –  Iowa Association of Christian Schools:

Both legislative chambers have passed their own version of Senate File 2284, the education reform bill. The bill has been sent to a conference committee to work out a final bill which will be voted on with no amendments.

Many provisions affect non-public schools because they are accredited by the state. IACS supports the following provisions which we believe will help education in Iowa, including:

  • No expansion of the core curriculum
  • Retain religious liberty language related to the core curriculum
  • Retain alternative licensure provisions for teachers
  • Retain Competency-based instruction language

Please contact the following five key legislators via email (provided below) and let them know you want them to support these four things in the final version of the bill.  Feel free to copy and paste the following sample email and please personalize it with your thoughts and a “thank you” for working hard on education reform legislation this session.  Each of these legislators (two Republicans and two Democrats) have been helpful to IACS on different aspect of this year’s ed reform bill(s).  They all deserve a thank you and an appeal to keep working to make the bill a good one for public AND private schools in Iowa:

“Please support these provisions in Senate File 2284, the education reform bill:

  • No expansion of the core curriculum
  • Retain religious liberty language related to the core curriculum
  • Retain alternative licensure provisions for teachers
  • Retain competency-based instruction language

Thank you for your work on education issues in the state.”

We are hopeful that the House and Senate will compromise on a bill that includes the four-five areas of agreement while avoiding any of the other controversial provisions that put IACS schools at risk.