Want to replace the Common Core? It’ll cost Utah $100M, school board member warns

(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) Utah School Board members Spencer Stokes says the cost of replacing Common Core education standards woiuld be $100 million.

Stokes’ explanation met resistance from board colleague Lisa Cummins, a member of the advocacy group Utahns Against Common Core.

She said her constituents don’t believe the debate is over and are not satisfied allowing a "socialist program" to be rendered impenetrable by financial constraints.

"Then they can pay for it," Stokes responded. "The point is, the Legislature won’t give us the money."

Common Core was developed by a national consortium of state leaders and education experts. The standards outline the minimum math and English skills students should master each year as they advance toward graduation. They were adopted by Utah — and most states — in 2010.

Since then, the Utah Board of Education has made a number of revisions to school standards, but the Common Core remains the backbone of the state’s grade-level benchmarks.

Because statewide tests were rewritten to match the Common Core, many critics falsely attribute federal testing requirements to the education benchmarks. Opponents also object to the standards’ out-of-state origins and efforts by the Obama administration to incentivize their adoption by states.

The exchange between Stokes and Cummins came during a discussion of statewide testing. The Utah Board of Education is seeking a potential replacement for SAGE, the end-of-year exams taken by children in grades 3 through 11.

High school juniors now can take the ACT exam in lieu of SAGE. But plans to replace SAGE in grades 9 and 10 next spring with a suite of ACT preparation tests ran afoul of Utah law, according to Jo Ellen Shaeffer, the school board’s assessment director.

"ACT does not align with Utah core standards," Shaefer said.

The Standards and Assessment Committee voted to continue using SAGE in grades 9 and 10 next year while a new assessment provider is sought for 2019 and beyond. The committee’s recommendations require approval by the full Utah Board of Education.

Committee members also discussed the issue of parents opting their children out of SAGE testing, which has led to allegations of schools unlawfully rewarding students who participate in end-of-year exams.

Cummins said there is ambiguity in state law and school board policies that needs to be clarified to secure parental rights. She added that schools and teachers should face consequences for incentivizing students to complete SAGE.

"We need to be more prescriptive," she said. "Parents have the right to opt out. It needs to be crystal clear."

Shaeffer said some confusion stems from the requirement that students who opt out participate in a "meaningful educational opportunity" while their classmates complete SAGE. In many schools an alternative exam is offered, she said, which has led to complaints that children are punished for not taking end-of-year tests.

"I don’t believe giving a test to a student is a punishment," Shaeffer said. "But other people may feel that way."

» Next page… Single page

(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) Utah School Board members Spencer Stokes says the cost of replacing Common Core education standards woiuld be $100 million.

Single page « Return to previous page

School board member and classroom teacher Jennifer Graviet said the laws and policies regarding SAGE are confusing for educators, who want to encourage students to take tests seriously.

"I want it clearly defined," Graviet said. "I want to know what I can do and what I can’t do."

Source Article

Share this post