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Bill introduced to end Common Core in schools

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Bill introduced to end Common Core in schools
By Joel Ebert, Capitol Bureau

In a week that featured significant discussion on the introduction of charter schools in West Virginia, a bill aimed at eliminating the state’s Common Core standards was introduced in the Senate on Thursday. Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, put forth Senate Bill 362, which explicitly prohibits the use of Common Core in West Virginia schools.

The bill would withdraw the state from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, place limitations on statewide assessments, restrict the collection and sharing of student data and temporarily adopt standards previously used in Massachusetts. If the bill passes, the state Board of Education would adopt the official curriculum implemented by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2004. The adopted curriculum would begin in July 2015 and last until July 2018.

In addition, the bill would require the state education board to create an Education Standards Development Steering Commission, which would “advise the state board in creating and adopting world-class curriculum content standards that will lead to a broad liberal-arts education, resulting in college and career readiness, for all students.”

The steering commission would develop standards created by Sandra Stotsky, who helped establish the Massachusetts state standards before the state adopted Common Core in 2010. The latest bill is Boley’s second piece of legislation pertaining to the state’s education standards. Her first bill, Senate Bill 25, was introduced on the first day of session and immediately was sent to the education committee.

Boley said it was a reintroduction of a bill she advanced last year. But the committee, of which Boley serves as vice-chairwoman, has yet to take up the bill. Boley said there was a key difference between Senate Bill 25 and her latest bill.

“The other bill put a moratorium on everything. This does away with it,” she said on Thursday. When asked if the moratorium bill was no longer going to be pursued, Boley said Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, who serves as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has expressed support for the legislation.

“There may be more support for a moratorium than to completely eliminate,” Boley said.

Boley said the reason the bill calls for the adoption of 10 year-old education standards is because Massachusetts schools have proven to be among the best performers in the country. According to the Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report, Massachusetts’ schools were the top performers in the country. The report found the state gave its students the best chance of success and had the best rating in terms of kindergarten through 12th grade achievement. West Virginia, on the other hand, ranks toward the bottom in terms of giving students a chance for success and achievement, according to the Quality Counts report.

Boley said adopting the standards that Stotsky helped create for Massachusetts would be beneficial to West Virginia. “You can see what her standards have done,” she said. “They have made Massachusetts number one while we’re 47th. Let’s take a look at Massachusetts.”

Boley said it is especially important to have a plan in place, if the bill passes, to have some sort of replacement for the state’s current standards. That’s why she said Stotsky has agreed to work with the state to implement the 2004 Massachusetts standards. Senate Bill 362 was sent to the Senate Education Committee. Boley said it is unclear when the bill will be discussed in committee.

In other news, the Senate Education committee briefly discussed revisions to a bill on charter schools on Thursday. No action was taken and the subject is expected to be brought up again during a meeting next Tuesday.