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State BOE adopts new academic standards

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State BOE adopts new academic standards
By Carrie Hodousek, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to repeal the controversial Common Core/Next Generation teaching standards and adopt a new set of standards called the College and Career Readiness Standards for English, language arts and mathematics, but state lawmakers say the new standards don’t address all the issues that have been raised in recent months.

“They don’t go far enough,” House Speaker Tim Armstead told MetroNews. “I think that they (state lawmakers) feel like Common Core has been a disaster. I feel that it has been a disaster in West Virginia.”

Armstead said the new standards are “too similar and too close” to Common Core/Next Gen, which lawmakers have expressed leading up to the 2016 Regular Legislative Session next month.

“It’ll be likely that this will be a subject of legislation and consideration during our upcoming session,” he said.

Mike Green, the state Board of Education president, told reporters during a break of Thursday’s meeting at the state Capitol that he understands the conversation of Common Core/Next Gen is expected to continue between lawmakers and that the board is willing to work with them.

“If they have specific suggestions as to how to improve our standards, the board and the department are very open to listen to them,” Green said. “This is not the end of our standards discussions. We will always be working very, very hard to make sure that we improve them every single day.”

State School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano agreed.

“I am open to any suggestions of individuals as long as it’s not going to be something that’s going to be disruptive to our educational system,” he said.

The new standards were developed based on public comments that were presented by West Virginia University. From July through September the state Department of Education provided an online platform called the Academic Spotlight, so parents, teachers and administrators could review and provide feedback on the current ELA and mathematics standards. Feedback from the 30-day comment period was received from more than 5,000 people.

“The majority of which were our teachers, so I feel very good that this is an opportunity where this was not top-down. This came from the bottom-up in the sense of organically from our teachers,” Martirano said.

Martirano said he encourages more public comments in the future to ensure the Common Core/Next Gen controversy does not continue.

“We may not always agree, but listen and try to get it right. That’s the best process,” he said. “When it’s one-sided and something is dictated there’s just natural opposition. The more buy-in you get at the local level in a collaborative manner, the better off that you’re going to be.”

The board also approved Thursday a revised policy which would reduce the amount of formal statewide testing. The recommendation, made by Martirano, eliminates social studies testing in all grades and eliminates testing in science for grades 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 11. It also removes the requirements to administer the ACT EXPLORE, ACT PLAN and ACT COMPASS tests.

Martirano said the new policy will “reduce the tremendous burden in terms of over testing in our state.”

He also appointed a commission that will be reviewing all assessments in West Virginia to ensure students are ready for college and careers.

The College and Career Readiness Standards are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2016.

Highlights of the changes include:

· Simplify the presentation of standards for teachers and parents

· Increase prevalence of problem-solving skills with a connection to college, careers and life-needed skills

· Align standards for more grade level appropriateness for all standards at all grade levels

· Include clarifying examples within each standard to make them more relevant to learning

· Include an introduction of foundational skills in ELA and mathematics to ensure mastery of content in future grade levels

· Include handwriting in grades K-4, and explicit mention of cursive writing instruction in grades 2-3

· Include an explicit mention for students to learn multiplication (times) tables by the end of grade 3

· Add standards specific to Calculus with the expectation of Calculus being available to all students