House bill backs state school board’s decision on common core; no repeal language included

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House bill backs state school board’s decision on common core; no repeal language included
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

The House of Delegates is moving a bill that does not repeal the teaching standards the state Board of Education replaced Common Core with late last year.

The House of Delegates Education Committee quickly passed a reworked bill Saturday morning. There was no discussion on the bill before the vote.

The bill (HB 4014) was approved on a voice vote from the committee following the approval of six amendments that were apparently agreed to in separate caucuses held by Republican and Democratic members of the committee. There was no open discussion on any of the amendments and all of the votes were by voice vote and they appeared unanimous. The bill was then passed without any discussion after Del. Dave Perry (D-Fayette) used a procedural move to cut off any debate. The whole process in the open meeting took just more than six minutes.

The new version of the bill, without the repeal language, first appeared Friday afternoon. There’s been push back by some who have said the new standards, called the College and Career Readiness Standards, should be given a chance to work. Critics have said the new standards, approved by the state Board of Education late last year, looked too much like Common Core.

“They don’t go far enough,” House Speaker Tim Armstead told MetroNews last December after the College and Career Readiness Standards were approved. “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.”

Although failing to repeal the new standards, the bill does do away with the Smarter Balanced exam in the 2016-2017 school year in favor of a college entrance test like the ACT. State School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano has been working with a committee on that very topic. The bill also mentions other testing.

Among the six amendments approved Saturday; removal of the word science from three areas of the bill, keeping math and English language arts as the only standards at issue; an amendment, offered by Del. Danny Hamrick (R-Harrison), which puts language in the bill that says a student will be allowed to opt out of testing with a written request from his or her parents and the student will not suffer repercussions for that decision. A third amendment limits the amount of time spent on testing.

“Any summative assessment approved by the state board shall no more than two percent of a student’s instructional time,” the amendment said.

The bill will now be considered by the full House of Delegates.

The House of Delegates released the following recap of the bill Saturday afternoon:

·         Codifies the Board’s repeal of Common Core.

·         Prohibits the Board from acquiring or implementing any assessment instrument developed to specifically align with Common Core, including the Smarter Balanced test.

·         Requires the Board to withdraw from the Common Core Consortium.

·         Requires that any academic standard adopted after the bill becomes effective shall meet four criteria.

·         The Legislative Oversight Commission on Education and Accountability will remain involved in reviewing any future changes in academic standards by ensuring that the board hasn’t exceeded the scope of its authority and that the standards proposed conform to the requirement of the bill, including public hearings.

·         Requires the Board to review and approve summative assessments in grades 3-8 and early high school in the subjects of English, reading, writing, and mathematics; summative assessments in grade 11 in college readiness; and summative assessments in 11th and 12th  grades in career readiness and assessment based credentials that measure and document foundational workplace skills.  The bill includes specific requirements that each of the tests must meet.  Under this bill, the testing will begin in the 2016-2017 school year.

·         No more than 2% of a student’s instructional time may be used for testing.

·         Requires the board to provide online assessment preparation when students take a computer based test so that the students have the digital literacy skills to take the test.  The bill does require that the tests be available in paper-and-pencil and computer-based formats.

·         Requires school officials to grant written requests to opt out of assessments and prohibits punishment, discipline, or grade reduction of students whose parents decide to opt that student out.

·         Requires the Board to develop policies relating to end-of-course assessments and student accountability.