Dear Media, W. Virginia Bill Does Not Repeal Common Core

On Friday, West Virginia legislators passed HB 4014.  The bill is 29 pages long and has quite a lot in it.

News outlets are using the words ‘repeals Common Core’ with regards to the bill. But does it actually do that?

Last year West Virginia lawmakers filed HB 2184 and then at the end of 2015,  the West Virginia State Board of Education turned around and basically rebranded Common Core.

Here are the major things that HB 4014 does:

  • 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 W. 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

Let’s look closer at the section that deals with the “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel”.  This is discussed on page 6 of the bill.  The text is as follows, emphasis added is mine:

The Legislature hereby establishes an Academic Standards Evaluation Panel. The Senate President shall appoint two subject matter experts, one in mathematics and one in English Language Arts, and the Speaker of the House shall appoint two subject matter experts, one in mathematics and one in English Language Arts. The Committee on Academic Standards shall:

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.

The Panel recommended revisions shall be completed by October 1, 2016.

The state board of education shall adopt and implement the standards in a manner that minimizes classroom interruptions on or before the 2017-2018 school year.

The state board shall withdraw from the Memorandum of Agreement entered into with the Council of Chief State School Officers and The National Governors Association for Best Practices which required the state board to agree that common core represents eighty-five percent of West Virginia’s standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics and withdraw as a governing state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium;

And the fatal flaw in this plan is using the framework West Virginia already has in place, because that’s Common Core.

As both  former Common Core Validation committee members Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram had said when they testified in North Carolina,  one needs to rip out the Common Core standards and do a full replace.

Simply tinkering with what is already there would be entering into a long and messy process.

Depending on who is appointed to the “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel”, West Virginia is going to get yet another consolidated version of Common Core.

Of interest on the final pages of the bill is this note:

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to prevent the State Board of Education from implementing common core academic standards and assessments; to establish a process and criteria for the state to develop alternate academic standards and assessments; to prohibit the state board from entering into any agreement which requires implementation of common core standards or limits Constitutional authority and obligation to provide a thorough and efficient system of education; and requiring the state board to report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education and Accountability. Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.