Source: The Corydon Democrat

Remove Images

Indiana first state to drop Common Core

by Leslie Radcliff

April 08, 2014

Indiana lawmakers unhappy with the current national Common Core education standards gave the federal government the ultimate showing of their growing distaste at the highest level last month as Gov. Mike Pence signed new legislation that made Indiana the first state in the country to opt out of the national program.

In late January, Senate Bill 91 — which would allow the Common Core curriculum currently in use to be disregarded and the State Board of Education to adopt its own college and career readiness standards before July 1 — passed the Senate Education and Career Development Committee and in early February continued to charge ahead, gaining support from the full Senate.

Common Core standards are academic guidelines for classroom instruction created by an association of state governors, and all but five states had agreed to follow them. The repeal does not prevent portions of Common Core from being adopted for classroom use but allows the SBOE to decide which standards would supplement any new ones.

The Common Core program isn't a federally-mandated curriculum; it was developed by the National Governors Association, and Indiana was one of the first states to adopt the standards, under then-Gov. Mitch Daniels.

That was in 2010 and, initially, 45 states and the District of Columbia agreed to sign on to the new standards. Now, several states are reconsidering their participation in the program, with approximately 100 bills to slow, stop or reverse Common Core requirements being introduced to state legislatures across the country this year. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that is an 85-percent increase over repeal requests from last year.

However, under the tutelage of Pence and the current state superintendent of public instruction, Glenda Ritz, there have been questions, and the pair have said it is their intent to create standards that are unique to Indiana.

While the state no longer has to comply with the national Common Core program, the new legislation doesn't mean Indiana students will receive a dramatically different education than those from neighboring states.

The legislation strikes references to Common Core and requires the SBOE to adopt what it calls "college and career readiness" standards that meet national benchmarks and comply with federal standards while maintaining Indiana's power over its educational programs.

Some schools have done well under the repealed measures.

Crawford County Community School Corp. Supt. Dr. Mark Eastridge has said, since the Common Core's implementation in 2010, there have been improvements corporation-wide but that he isn't sure those can be attributed to Common Core standards. The school has been improving for a number of years, although the constant changes in state and federal benchmarks make it somewhat difficult to plan from year to year.

Some educators are worried the repeal may have unintended ramifications.

Crawford County Community School Corp. — along with all of the other schools in the area — receive federal dollars from its adoption of the Common Core standards.

"We will work diligently to implement whatever the state of Indiana decides to do in order to comply with the state of Indiana," Eastridge said earlier in regard to the changes to educational standards, adding that his job is to do what is best for the students within his corporation.

For now, the worry that Indiana schools could lose federal funding dollars seems to be under control as the bill still requires the state to meet federal education standards in order to preserve educational funding.