Faced with the task of replacing Common Core academic standards, Oklahoma should halt end-of-instruction exams and give education officials time to develop new ways to measure students’ performance, Rep. Todd Thomsen said Wednesday.
Thomsen said Common Core was not implemented properly, resulting in a political and educational quagmire. He said he hoped the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling upholding efforts to repeal Common Core would help lawmakers find a solution to the problem.
“The simple solution to all of this would be to put a hold on our high-stakes testing for a couple of years, give the new state superintendent a chance to get in and start a process of developing new standards,” the Ada Republican said Wednesday.
Thomsen said state officials should pause and take a deep breath instead of rushing to develop new standards.
Repealing Common Core
Opponents of Common Core won a major victory this week, when the state’s highest court upheld a bill repealing the standards. In an 8-1 ruling, the court said that House Bill 3399 did not violate constitutional provisions dealing with education and separation of powers.
Common Core is a set of national standards in math and English for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The standards, which were sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School officers, were designed to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the tools they need to succeed.
Even though the states led the way on Common Core, critics attacked the standards as a symbol of federal intrusion into state affairs. Those complaints prompted Oklahoma and several other states to abandon Common Core in favor of homegrown standards.
House Bill 3399 repealed Common Core in Oklahoma and directed schools to revert to an earlier set of standards for English and math starting in August. In the meantime, the state Board of Education will work with other agencies on drawing up a new set of standards.
The state has until Aug. 1, 2016, to develop the new standards, which must be designed to prepare high school students for college or careers. The law says that the standards are subject to legislative review and cannot be implemented until the review is finished.
HB 3399 prompted a lawsuit from five school teachers, three parents of public school students and four members of the state Board of Education. The plaintiffs claimed that HB 3399 was unconstitutional because it expanded the Legislature’s control over public education. The bill authorizes the Board of Education to draw up a new set of academic standards, which cannot be implemented without lawmakers’ approval.
The bill also gives the Legislature the power to approve the standards, reject them or recommend any changes. The board is required to incorporate those changes into the final version of the standards.
“Thus, section 4 (of HB 3399) places the Legislature in total control of the subject matter standards for Oklahoma classrooms initially drafted by the Board,” the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs also claimed that HB 3399 violated the separation-of-powers rule because it authorized the Legislature to propose revisions to the standards.