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State nixes Common Core, but new model may be similar

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Indiana on Monday became the first state to formally withdraw from the Common Core education standards in a move that did little to appease critics of the national program, who contend the state is simply stripping the "Common Core" label while largely keeping the benchmarks.

Indiana was among 45 states that in recent years adopted Common Core standards spelling out what students should be learning in math and reading at each grade level. Some conservatives have since criticized the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools, and in signing legislation Monday to pull Indiana from the program, Republican Gov. Mike Pence trumpeted the move as a victory for state-level action.

"I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed standards that meet the needs of our people," Pence said.

The state began moving away from Common Core last year, when Indiana lawmakers "paused" its implementation. This year, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a measure requiring the State Board of Education to draft new benchmarks for students.

The draft for those standards, put out for review last month, has already drawn skepticism from Common Core critics, including an analyst hired by Pence to assess the new program. That analyst, retired University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, says the proposal is just too similar to Common Core.

Stotsky released an internal Indiana Department of Education report that found that more than 70 percent of the standards for sixth through 12th grade are directly from Common Core, and about 20 percent are edited versions of the national standards. About 34 percent of English standards for kindergarten through fifth grade were taken straight from the national standards, and an additional 13 percent were edited.

Stotsky called the proposal a "grand deception." The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on it on April 28.

"It makes a fool of the governor," Stotsky said. "The governor is being embarrassed by his own Department of Education if the final version is too close to Common Core."

Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and state education superintendents. Indiana adopted the standards in 2010 under then-Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican. But by 2012, tea party anger had engulfed the national education standards and conservative anger over the requirements helped turn Bennett out of office.

Rumblings of dissent have popped up across the country. More than 200 bills on the national standards were introduced this year and about half would slow or halt their implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oklahoma is among states considering implementing different standards. A state Senate panel voted Monday in favor of a measure that would effectively halt the use of Common Core.

The Common Core replaced a patchwork of varying standards from state to state, and supporters say it gives both consistency and academic rigor.

Experts on both sides of the fiery debate have said the Common Core standards are strikingly similar to ones previously used in Indiana — and any program the state adopts as an alternative is unlikely to be much different.

Even the original author of the measure removing Indiana from the national standards, state Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Carmel, pulled his name from the bill at the last minute this month after learning that other lawmakers had altered the measure to require the state to still meet federal requirements so as not to lose federal funding.

"What you're seeing is unsurprisingly pretty closely aligned to the Common Core," said Michael Brickman, national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank. "The core of the Common Core is still very much in place."

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  • Why are you surprised.
    If both Indiana Department of Education and Common Core State Standards Initiative agree that the purpose of K-12 education is ensuring "that all students have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life upon graduation from high school", then the standard will look a lot alike.
  • Jim F - Check Out Yahoo Today
    Great post on Yahoo's main page today about the ridiculousness of the Common Core. To anyone who thinks it is clear cut, you are the ideolog who doesn't get that people like choices. That maybe I agree with the Engineer in the Yahoo story that these standards are ignorant. If I want a say in how my kids are educated I have a much better chance if it is something being decided at a more local level. That doesn't mean I blame Obama as you so wrongly assume. And you make it seem as if all of Academia agrees with the approach. From studies I read, most oppose it. So get off your soap box and don't tell others to go educate themselves, when you yourself don't seem to be so educated on the topic or the posts of others. Don't assume what you don't know.
  • Why oppose?
    I reiterate Nancy's comment - what is it about the standards themselves (politics aside) that the Indiana legislature is actually objecting to? Crafting our own standards seems to be a solution in search of a problem, if not an overt, and seemingly expensive, political maneuver. Is anyone putting education first, here? Has anyone on the legislature taken the time to educate themselves on the goals of common core without making pre-existing assumptions about what academic standards should be?
  • Re: Patty
    "We have the best education system in the world." Ummm, no we don't. It truly is amazing how a set of bipartisan education standards that were developed at the state level, can all of a sudden have so much vitriolic opposition because a black man says that he supports them.
  • Ignorance Prevails In Opposition to CC Standards
    To CK and Patty - Please take some time to educate yourselves on the background and goals of common core. Your comments reflect ignorance of the CC's basics. Just to help you get started, the CC standards were developed by the states and academia; the current Administration (Pres Obama) had nothing to do with them. The standards are not focused on testing; rather they are intended to promote more critical thinking (as opposed to rote memorization) and a curriculum that allows students to transfer from school to school within a state or to another state and not lose/gain ground because of disjointed standards. It is sad to see blind political ideology trump what has been a conscientious effort to improve education across the country. The reason Indiana's new standards will likely look a lot like CC standards is that the CC standards embody a lot of good thinking of what makes sense.
    • Well Done
      Great accomplishment. Such big parts of our communities and lives need to be decided at the state/local level. A handful of Bureaucrats in Washington should not have so much power to decide how my kids are taught. As if people in an ivory tower in DC should decide everything for me and my family. Big win for the state of IN. Watch how many states follow our lead. Bring more decisions back to the local community.
    • Obamacore?
      I wonder if this is going to be similar to Republican complaints about the Affordable Care Act, in that they love to talk about repealing it, yet have nothing with which to replace it? Republican Obamacare replacement proposals have so far been either similar to much of the ACA, rooted in higher taxes, or based on entirely false premises (tort reform!). I find it comical that a bipartisan developed basis of standards for schools is now facing a similar fate (they were for it before they were against it!), largely because of politics. I can't wait to see what superior set of standards we'll be able to come up with!
    • Resume'
      "Shut it down" Pence is just adding to his tea party resume'.
    • Sure.
      The true "grand deception" is that the Tea Party conservatives have any interest in schools as they now exist. They will dismantle the entire system if you let them, and offer nothing in its place but indoctrination.
    • Common Core
      This isn't about politics...Common Core was developed and slowly implemented into school materials and classrooms. The Feds give millions to the states who adopt CC. If you actually help a child with homework, you'll see that a lot has changed. The math problems are solved in a bizarre manner. Classics are being removed from the reading materials. They are changing the curriculum to conform with standardized testing. Which means there's a lot of money for publishing companies, already. There's datamining (Powerschool!). We have the best education system in the world. We're being told to be like other countries (China!)...seriously? As a parent, I'm stunned that our schools are buying this CC(being bought?). American children are NOT COMMON! Indiana standards were excellent...those can be enhanced, not replaced. Please learn more...Parents are the first line of defense for their children! The state appreciates any input.
    • ?
      Have any of these tea party people actually given any specifics about why they oppose these standards besides the fact that Obama supports them?

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