States continue to wrest their way from the Common Core national standards and tests. Considering the problems that have plagued implementation, along with ongoing concerns from parents, teachers, and state policymakers over loss of state and local control of education, they are right to do so.
Among the implementation issues, yesterday the Associated Press (AP) reported that three states—Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota—have halted testing being administered through the company Measured Progress due to server capacity problems. “The company said in a statement Wednesday that its platform isn’t able to support the number of students taking the tests, although server capacity was increased beyond what the tests’ creator, Smarter Balanced, said was needed,” AP reported.
States to Watch
New Hampshire is considering a proposal to allow districts to opt out of Common Core and use their own standards and tests.
In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal is working to fully withdraw his state from Common Core. And in an illustration of the level of discourse Common Core opponents are faced with, proponents of the national standards and tests distributed stuffed unicorns to Louisiana lawmakers to bolster their case. The Alliance for Better Classrooms PAC distributed the unicorns that included tags with the admonition: “Unicorns are not real. And neither are most of the things you’ve heard about Common Core.” Yet the concerns of parents and teachers are very real, and well founded.
Mississippi is another state to watch on the Common Core exit front. Although there is momentum in Mississippi to fully withdraw from the national standards, currently the state is only considering a proposal to establish a “commission” to review the standards. The proposal would likely fail to fully divest the state from the Common Core effort and appears to rebrand Common Core as the “Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards.”
What should states do to exit Common Core?
- Determine how the decision was made to cede the state’s standard-setting authority. States can exit from the national standards overreach by first determining which state entity agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards. For most states, the state board of education is the body that made the decision. State boards of education have wide-ranging authority over education policy in most states. While authority varies from state to state, state constitutions and statutes generally give broad authority to state boards of education to implement policies governing standards, assessments, and curricula.
- Prohibit new spending for standards implementation. Governors and state policymakers concerned with the national standards push should refuse to expend any state or local resources to align state standards, tests, and curricula with the Common Core national standards and tests.
- Determine how to reverse course. In many states, the rushed adoption of the Common Core preceded the election of 2010, which brought in new governors, legislators, and board members. Current elected conservative leaders should be concerned about the authority handed to centralizers by their predecessors and investigate how control of standards and curriculum can be returned to state leaders.