Martirano, state board recommend repeal of Next Gen/Common Core

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Martirano, state board recommend repeal of Next Gen/Common Core
By Jeff Jenkins | Metronews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education voted Friday to put out for a 30-day public comment period new academic standards that would replace the controversial West Virginia Next Generation Standards tied to Common Core along with recommending significant changes in standardized testing.

State School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano told the state board Next Gen should be replaced by a new set of standards called the West Virginia College & Career Readiness Standards.

“I recommend repeal Next Generation Standards which the basis was Common Core and replace them with West Virginia College & Career Readiness,” Martirano told the board in front of a packed meeting room in Charleston.

The Next Gen/Common Core-based math, English language/arts standards have been under fire for months. The legislature threatened to repeal them earlier this year but Martirano was able to convince lawmakers to allow for additional comment and review. Thousands of comments were made on the new Academic Spotlight webpage, which were reviewed and summarized by several groups.

The new standards will be easier to understand and not get away from basic skills and will provide for more flexibility and autonomy for teachers, according to Martirano.

“West Virginia students are going to learn cursive handwriting and their multiplication tables,” Martirano said during Friday’s meeting.

The board also agreed with Martirano’s recommendation to streamline standardized testing. The proposal is also being put out for a 30-day comment period. It includes eliminating social studies testing in all grades and eliminating testing in science in grades 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 11 along with other changes having to do with CT EXPLORE, ACT PLAN and ACT COMPASS assessments. The state would still be in federal compliance despite the changes.

“These changes signify a reduction in the amount of time our students will spend taking statewide formal assessments,” said Board of Education President, Mike Green said in a news release. “While we recognize the importance of testing, we must also find the right balance with instruction and formative assessments administered by our teachers throughout the year.”

Martirano also announced the creation of the superintendent’s Commission on Assessment that would make recommendations for changes by next spring. Martirano called for a “recommitment” in quality assessment. He said he was disappointment in repeatedly hearing that quality instruction stopped once testing stopped in the spring.

“We must ensure we are requiring meaningful assessments that benefit both our students and teachers,” Martirano said. “Ultimately, our goal is to identify a long-term formal assessment solution to allow trends to be established and to aid educators.”

The fate of Next Gen/Common Core may have already been sealed. Legislative leaders, including state Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead, have said they planned to push for the repeal in next year’s regular session.

“I remain solely committed to high quality standards for our students and teachers,” Martirano said in a news release. “These proposed new standards not only increase rigor, but also provide the groundwork to ensure our students are equipped with the skills needed for college, careers and the 21st century world of work.”

The changes recommended Friday by Martirano will be up for approval in the board’s December meeting following the 30-day comment period.

Highlights of the recommended changes released Friday by the state Department of Education:

· 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