West Virginia Homeschoolers Threatened With Common Core

I did not realize that West Virginia was not a friendly state for homeschoolers, and it became less friendly during debate on the West Virginia Senate floor.

HSLDA reports that State Senator Michael Romano (D-Clarksburg) thinks homeschoolers should have to follow Common Core:

Governor James C. Justice vetoed legislation that would have granted homeschool students equal access to public school vocational classes and sports. And a senator who opposed the 2016 homeschool modernization law has continued to disparage home education and suggest new ways to thwart it.

During floor debate on House Bill 2196, which would have made homeschool students eligible for public high school extracurricular activities, witnesses heard Senator Michael Romano propose that homeschool students be required to follow the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Romano has been a vocal opponent of homeschooling in West Virginia for a long time. He has done everything he can to oppose improvements in state laws that would benefit families who have chosen to exercise their fundamental liberty to educate their children at home.

Romano’s invoking the Common Core is tantamount to calling for increased government control over home education. Many parents reject the Common Core’s one-size-fits-all approach as antithetical to homeschooling’s ideal of providing individualized education.

Considering Romano is a Democrat in a Republican-controlled chamber I’m not concerned about this coming to fruition, but it is disconcerting nonetheless.

When a Repeal Isn’t a Repeal

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

SB 524 currently before the West Virginia Senate is being touted as a Common Core repeal. The bill, unlike the HB 2443 introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates, does not effectively repeal the Common Core State Standards.

Let me explain.

Right now SB 524, if passed, would prohibit the State Board of Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards by July 1, 2018. Sounds good right?

Well, that in itself is a a watering down of the bill as this reflects an amendment, the introduced version said the prohibition was effective July 1, 2017. So this gives Common Core another year to be entrenched in West Virginia schools.

Then the HB 2443 and the original version of SB 524 required the adoption of Massachusetts’ ELA standards pre-Common Core and California’s math standards pre-Common Core. This was amended out.

Why? Susan Berry with Breitbart News reports the explanation State Senator Robert Karnes (R-Ripley), the author of that amendment, told her:

I’m fine with those standards, but there was a real concerted effort by some to…I don’t know if you could exactly say slander, but let’s just say they hit those standards very hard for being old and out of touch…and it was carrying a lot of weight. So, the amendment, essentially, served one purpose, and that was to keep the bill alive and move it over to the House.

And there’s an effort over there to define more clearly what we did in the amendment, essentially saying that state teachers, state educators, will be involved in any standards formulation, adoption, etc. We put that in there, and I’m told that on the House side they’ve got some even better language.

But, having those specific standards in there, I believe would have essentially killed the bill. It’s better to keep it moving than to watch it die.

There is not requirement for the state to adopt proven standards right away, but move straight to the development of new standards which would require the Board to “allow West Virginia educators the opportunity to participate in the development of the academic standards.”

There would then be a sixty day comment period and four public hearings.

Needless to say, that doesn’t provide any assurances West Virginia won’t end up with a rebrand. Actually what we’ve seen thus far in other states pretty much guarantees it.

The State Board of Education recently voted to move away from Smarter Balanced starting next school year. What will the state end up with?

It’s important to note that the Every Student Succeeds Act requires as part of a state’s accountability plan to have standards and an assessment that are aligned with one another.

If the State Board of Education is develops a new assessment before being prohibited from implementing the Common Core State Standards what do we think their new assessment will be aligned to?

When they develop new standards under this new assessment what do we think those standards will be aligned to?

In the end you have Common Core or some version of it.

I agree with Erin Tuttle, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core, that saw a rebranding in their own state Susan Berry quotes Tuttle in her piece:

Despite boastful claims from state legislators that Common Core was repealed, the people of West Virginia aren’t buying it. The fact that every school is still using Common Core textbooks and administering a Common Core test (Smarter Balance) is an everyday reminder to students, parents, and teachers that the state legislature’s claim is false….

….Until state legislators stop lying to themselves and admit what everyone else knows to be true, very little progress will be made by West Virginia’s schools. The state legislature needs to face reality and pass a bill that not only repeals Common Core, but ensures it is replaced by standards that work.

No Surprise, West Virginia Senate to Consider Weaker Common Core Bill

westvirginiaflagpicture2

The West Virginia Senate Education Committee took up HB 4014 and made it weaker. It’s *just* like the House bill which I already had some concerns about the House version.

The Senate version:

  • Does not delay the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • It will throw the review of the science standards in with the review of the Common Core Math and ELA standards.
  • It does remove West Virginia from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

It appears that it does keep the rest of the assessment language which includes:

  • Rescinds the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  with the CCSSO and NGA
  • Prohibits the State Board of Ed  from adopting or using Common Core aligned tests
  • Orders the State Board of Ed to review their state summative testing scheme
  • Grants parents the ability to opt their child out of testing
  • Prohibits the ‘discipline, punishment, or grade reduction’ of any student who opts out
  • Testing can’t take more than 2% of a student’s yearly instruction time (HT: A.P. Dillon)

So there is a silver lining.

A Common Core Bill Passes West Virginia House

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

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

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 4014 on Friday by a 73 to 20 vote margin. As it is currently written the bill does a number of things (list courtesy of A.P. Dillion):

  • Puts off using the Next Generation Science Standards until 2017
  • Introduces digital learning
  • Creates an “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel”
  • Rescinds the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  with the CCSSO and NGA
  • Withdraws West Virginia from the SBAC
  • Prohibits the State Board of Ed  from adopting or using Common Core aligned tests
  • Orders the State Board of Ed to review their state summative testing scheme
  • Grants parents the ability to opt their child out of testing
  • Prohibits the ‘discipline, punishment, or grade reduction’ of any student who opts out
  • Testing can’t take more than 2% of a student’s yearly instruction time

As with any bill the devil is in the details. What will the “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel” do? Dillion provided the description from the bill, the key section is below:

Using the West Virginia College – and – Career – Readiness Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics as a framework, review and revise the standards, including additions, deletions, and edits based upon empirical research and data to ensure grade-level alignment to the standards of states with a proven track record of consistent high-performing student achievement in English Language Arts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and in Mathematics, on both the National Assessment of Educational Progress and Trends in Math and Science Study international Assessment.

Remove Common Core strategies that require instructional methods.

Where have we seen this before? In every state that offered a review and replace bill who ended up with a rebrand. Could West Virginia end up with better standards? Yes, but it’s not encouraging to see that the current standards – Common Core math and ELA standards will be the framework used as they “review and revise.”

I don’t want to bash the bill, knowing the players involved I think their intentions are noble, and if some good people land on the “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel” they could end up with better standards. There are also a number of other positive steps in this bill, especially related to assessments, that we can laud. Over all I would say this is a positive bill.

It heads to the West Virginia Senate whose leadership has been known to tank good Common Core bills, the last one was a straightforward repeal bill they gutted until it did nothing. The review process implemented by the State Board of Education has also been a joke. This bill at least requires the state to leave Smarter Balanced and break rescind the MOU they had with the NGA and CCSSO. Hopefully that language, and the assessment language, survives the West Virginia Senate.

West Virginia Legislators to Push Common Core Repeal Despite Review

westvirginiaflagpicture2The West Virginia Legislature is currently in their June interim period.  Common Core was the topic of discussion during Sunday’s joint education committee meeting, and a draft of a bill to repeal the standards next session was presented.

West Virginia Public Radio reports that Angie Summers of WV Against Common Core and Bonnie Henthorn, a member of a local school board, first presented their concerns:

Both Summers and Henthorn said West Virginia’s version of Common Core, called the Next Generation Content standards, weren’t rigorous enough to prepare students for college or career, but complained parents are not able to help their children with their homework. Both women also expressed concerns over data collection associated with the Smarter Balance Assessment, the standardized test aligned with the standards.

“West Virginia by contract has agreed to allow the federal government ongoing access to our individualized student data,” she told the committee

West Virginia Senate leadership took a strong repeal bill passed in the West Virginia House and watered it down.  The State Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano says he still favors the standards, but has ordered the West Virginia Department of Education to conduct a review in an attempt to pacify those who opposed them.

Some are pushing for a repeal regardless.

Still, some lawmakers are pushing for repeal, like Senate Education Vice Chair Donna Boley. Members of the Joint Committee were presented with a draft of one repeal bill Sunday.

“The House passed that repeal on a 75-19 vote and if we had the support of our Senate leadership, we would have passed that too so I think that we are going to do that in the next session,” Boley said.

Video: West Virginia Legislative Hearing on Common Core

Members of the West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education held a public hearing on Common Core standards and West Virginia’s Next Generation standards on December 16th. It included testimony from those who support and those who oppose Common Core.  Speakers opposed to the Common Core included Sandra Stotsky and Ted Rebarber.

You can watch the entire hearing below.

West Virginia Ripe for Common Core Repeal

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

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

The Charleston Daily Mail reported last week that there will be a significant push in West Virginia to repeal the Common Core led by Republicans who will control the state legislature when it gavels into session at least in the House of Delegates.

A Republican state lawmaker said there could be enough votes in the House of Delegates to repeal the Common Core standards in the upcoming legislative session.

Although efforts to repeal the standards never advanced beyond a committee this year, Delegate Larry Faircloth told the Daily Mail he thinks that will change in 2015.

The first test could come next month when the advocates against Common Core will have an opportunity to air their grievances for the first time in a committee hearing.

Common Core standards will be the central topic of discussion during a two-hour education committee meeting, Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, told the Daily Mail Tuesday.

Boley said she recently received news from Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, who serves as chairman of the education committee, that the topic will finally be discussed during an interim meeting.

“Our interim committees study everything under the sun,” she said. “But we haven’t been allowed to discuss Common Core. We’re hoping to more or less educate our legislators.”

Faircloth blamed politics for the fact repeal efforts died in committee.

“I felt like that happened because leaders of both parties thought that would’ve impacted the election,” he said.

Faircloth said he believes there are enough people in the House who would support a repeal of Common Core.

The future chair of the West Virginia Senate Education Committee was open to discussing it in committee..

State Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, who is expected to be the next chair of the Senate education committee, agreed with Butler’s call to discuss Common Core in the state Legislature.

“I think Common Core legislatively has not been visited the first time,” he said. “It was an administrative decision.”

Sypolt said although he is uncertain whether lawmakers have the legal authority to outright repeal Common Core, he expects the subject to be discussed in future meetings.

We’ll need to keep an eye on the Mountaineer State.

Common Core Bill Introduced in West Virginia Senate

The_West_Virginia_State_Capitol_Building_in_Charleston,_WV

SB 429 has been introduced in the West Virginia Senate.  Its intent is to protect student data, require a complete cost analysis of the Common Core State Standards, and implement a two-year moratorium on assessments to allow for public hearings.  It sponsored by State Senators Boley, Nohe, Barnes, Blair, Carmichael, Cole, M. Hall, Jenkins, Sypolt, and Walters.

It was introduced into the Senate Education Committee and Finance Committee.

Below is the text of the bill:

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-1-5, relating to public school curricular standards and assessments; establishing a Legislative Common Core Study Committee to study issues relating to implementation of Common Core standards and assessments in West Virginia and report to the Governor and Legislature no later than six months after the final public hearing, or on or before the first day of the 2016 Regular Session of the Legislature, whichever comes first; requiring State Board of Education to undertake a study of fiscal costs associated with implementing Common Core standards and assessments and report to the Governor and Legislature on or before the first day of the 2016 Regular Session; placing a two-year moratorium on implementation of Common Core assessments; prohibiting the State Board of Education from sharing personally identifiable information of students or teachers except as provided; and definitions.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-1-5, to read as follows:

ARTICLE 1. DEFINITIONS; LIMITATIONS OF CHAPTER; GOALS FOREDUCATION.

§18-1-5. Public school curricular standards and assessments.

(a) For purposes of this section:

(1) "Longitudinal data system" means the West Virginia Longitudinal Data System, as well as any other data warehouse containing West Virginia student information, including regional, interstate or federal data warehouse organizations under contract to or with a memorandum of understanding with the West Virginia Department of Education or the State of West Virginia.

(2) "Educational agency or institution" means any public or private elementary or secondary school or institution of higher education.

(3)"Common Core" means the Common Core state standards adopted by the West Virginia State Board of Education on May 12, 2010, and also referred to as the West Virginia Next Generation Standards.

(4) "Common Core assessments" means the Smarter Balanced Assessments or any other student assessments intended to measure student achievement in the common core standards.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the State Board of Education may not continue to implement the Common Core assessments currently scheduled for school year 2014-2015 as part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, for two years to allow for the following to occur:

(1) The appointment of a Legislative Common Core Study Committee which shall hold at least one public hearing in each congressional district of the state at which public and expert comment shall be taken on the Common Core standards and the associated assessments in the state’s public schools to determine the consequences of that implementation for academic achievement in the state, the ramifications of implementation, including those concerning loss of state sovereignty and control over any aspects of public education, and student data collection, storage and disclosure. The Committee shall be comprised of seven members of the West Virginia State Senate Education Committee, who shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and seven members of the West Virginia House of Delegates Education Committee, who shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates. The Senate President and the House Speaker may not appoint more than four members of the same political party from their respective seven appointees. The committee shall make a final report of its findings, conclusions and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature no later than six months after the final public hearing, or on or before the first day of the 2016 Regular Session of the Legislature, whichever comes first; and

(2) A fiscal analysis of the past, present, and future cost of implementation of the Common Core standards, and associated assessments, including, but not limited to, curriculum, testing, data collection and storage, additional personnel, training, materials, equipment, hardware, software and computer upgrades, shall be presented to the Governor and the Legislature on or before the first day of the 2016 Regular Session. The West Virginia Department of Education shall contract with an independent entity with expertise in the development, implementation, and assessments to conduct the fiscal analysis.

(c) The state board may not adopt any national standards in curricular areas other than English Language Arts and Mathematics or any standards modeled on such national standards that are substantially identical to those national standards, without completing the process outlined in subsection (b).

(d) Pending the committee’s report of findings, the state shall reserve the right to withdraw from the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and may not implement the SBAC assessments aligned to the Common Core standards, and shall instead, adopt and implement new assessments that provide valid, reliable, and timely testing of student performance, focusing primarily on academic content knowledge.

(e) The State Board of Education may not enter into or renew an agreement that cedes to an outside entity control over curricular standards or assessments.

(f) The State of West Virginia affirms the parent or guardian as the final authority in all matters of their student’s education and prohibits the access, release, or sharing of personally identifiable information, student level data, or directory information without prior written affirmative consent of the parent or guardian.

(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, and pending the committee’s report of findings to the Governor and the Legislature, the superintendent of schools, the state board, the department, or any other state entity that deals with education may not do any of the following:

(1) Expend any funds on construction, enhancement, or expansion of any statewide longitudinal data system designed to track students, or compile personally identifiable student information, beyond what is necessary for administrative functions directly related to the student’s
education, academic evaluation of programs and student progress, or for compliance as indicated in subdivision (5) of this subsection (f).

(2) Collect any new, share, or allow access to any personally identifiable information, directory information, or student level information of students or teachers with any entity outside the state without prior written affirmative consent of parent or guardian or teacher, except as indicated in subdivision (5) of this subsection (f).

(3) Share or allow access to any personally identifiable information, student level data, or directory information of students or teachers with any entity that intends to use that information to develop, market, distribute, or promote commercial products or services or that intends to transfer the information to any other entity for use in developing, marketing, distributing or promoting commercial products or service;

(4) Share or allow access to any personally identifiable information, student level data, or directory information of students or teachers with any entity within the state, unless that entity is an educational agency or an institution which the state expressly prohibits, in writing, the agency or institution from the following:

(A) Transferring the information to any other entity department agency or person;

(B) Using the information to develop, market, distribute, or promote commercial products or services, or to transfer information to any other entity for use in developing, marketing, distributing or promoting commercial products or services;

(C) Using the transfer of information for economic or workforce development planning.

(5) Share or allow access to any personally identifiable information, student level data, or directory information of students or teachers with the United States Department of Education unless prior affirmative written consent of the parent or guardian is obtained and all of the following apply:

(A) The sharing of information is required as a condition of receiving a federal education grant.

(B) The United States Department of Education agrees, in writing, to all of the following:

(I) To use the information only to evaluate the program or programs funded by the grant;

(ii) That the information will not be used for any research beyond that related to the evaluation of the program or programs funded by the grant, unless the teacher and parent or guardian of any student whose information will be used for the research affirmatively consents to that use in writing;

(iii) That it will not share the information with any other governmental or private entity, unless the teacher and parent or guardian of any student whose information will be shared affirmatively consents to that sharing in writing;

(iv) In the event that a parent or guardian gives prior affirmative written consent the United States Department of Education will inform the parent or guardian as to each data point that will be shared, and the purpose for each.

(v) That it will destroy the information upon completion of the evaluation of the program or program funded by the grant.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to affirm the parent or guardian as the final authority in all matters of a student’s education and to require prior parental or guardian written affirmative consent for disclosure of any student information other than aggregate data that is not personally identifiable. The bill prohibits the State Board of Education from continuing to implement the Common Core assessments, and requires the formation of a Legislative Common Core Committee to conduct statewide hearings on the common core standards and associated assessments and to make a public report of findings to the Governor and the Legislature. The bill also prohibits the State Board of Education from expending funds for a statewide longitudinal data system designed to track students pending the committee’s report of findings, and requires a fiscal analysis of common core and associated assessment implementation.

This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

Photo credit: O Palsson via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-2.0)

HT: WV Against Common Core