The Common Core State Standards Initiative or “Common Core” was intended to outline quantifiable benchmarks in English/language arts and mathematics at each grade level, from kindergarten through high school. The standards, developed in 2008 to 2009 by a 27-member committee assembled by the National Governor’s Association, were released in 2010. That year, 37 states, including Ohio, adopted Common Core. As of July 15, 2014, the standards had been endorsed by 43 states and the District of Columbia. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia never adopted the standards. Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina adopted the Common Core standards but repealed them in 2014. Twelve states, including Florida, Louisiana and Massachusetts, adopted Core standards but are delaying implementation of associated testing due to growing criticism from educators and parents.

Publishers are currently aligning their materials with the Common Core, technology companies are creating software and curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and two federally-funded consortia have created online tests of the Common Core.  The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment, having accepted $350 million in federal funds, were supposed to develop standardized Core-aligned examinations to more deeply assess student learning. According to Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, it is doubtful these new on- line tests will be all that different from standardized tests currently in use due to a lack of time and money devoted to their development.

Supporters of Common Core believed new standards would modernize education and allow schools to meet the performance requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Race to the Top while leaving curriculum decisions and methodology to local educators and school boards. Annual testing of students would provide a means to assess teachers and hold schools accountable for improvement. But, opponents are growing in number. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, once a strong supporter of Common Core, is now accusing Washington of attempting to coerce states to implement Common Core in violation of the Tenth Amendment. Others point out that weaknesses and flaws in the standards, such as age appropriateness at the elementary level, cannot be addressed because the original committee no longer exists.

In July 2014, Representatives Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) introduced House Bill 597 to repeal common core and related assessments. The bill further provides that, for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, Ohio’s academic content standards in English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies will be replaced with new standards that are consistent with the standards adopted by Massachusetts, as those standards existed prior to December 21, 2010. The drafters indicated a desire to  match Ohio’s standards, as closely as possible, to those adopted by Massachusetts. In the fall of 2012, Massachusetts, along with sixty- five educational systems (countries, cities, states and provinces), took part in a test of global student achievement. The test attempts to measure how well 15-year-olds in public and private schools can apply their knowledge to solve problems. Massachusetts outscored all but three educational systems in reading – Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

To weigh in on the debate, contact Representatives Thompson (614-644-8728) and Huffman (614-466-9624) or your local legislator. To leave a telephone message for any representative or senator, you may call the Ohio Legislative Information Hotline at 1-800-282-0253, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.