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Legislature Once Again Poised to Consider Common Core Repeal

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Legislature Once Again Poised to Consider Common Core Repeal
By Ashton Marra

The battle over Common Core continued at the statehouse Sunday during the Legislature’s June interim meetings. The national education standards were once again the topic of discussion for the Joint Education Committee.

It started with presentations by two Common Core opponents, Susan Summers, head of West Virginians Against Common Core, and Bonnie Henthorn, a member of the Tyler County Board of Education who said she was presenting her concerns as a parent.

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’s alignment with Common Core state standards and the use of the Smarter Balance Assessment does not compromise the privacy of student data,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano said later in the meeting.

“The West Virginia Department of Education provides deidentified student assessment results to the Smarter Balance Consortium so that the assessment questions can be validated and calibrated. The deidentifaction of the data means that the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium will only know that a student is from West Virginia and will have no other way to identify a student by name, school, city or county,” he said.

Martirano told committee members he firmly believes in the standards that are in place, but because of the concerns not just expressed by citizens like Summers and Henthorn, but also by lawmakers who discussed a repeal bill during the 2015 Legislative session, he has directed the West Virginia Department of Education to take on a comprehensive review of those standards slated to being this month.

The review will take place in two parts. The first will allow West Virginias to review the standards online and comment. In the second phase, the West Virginia University College of Education will lead a comprehensive review and analysis of those comments in conjunction with West Virginia teachers and experts from the Southern Region Education Board, or SREB.

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.

Despite the bill, Martirano said he will continue with his comprehensive review of the standards. He will present the review process to the West Virginia Board of Education for their input Wednesday.