Indiana halts Common Core implementation

Indiana, one of the most education reform-minded states in recent years, is postponing implementation of the Common Core initiative so that there can be more discussion on the quality and impact of the standards.

Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Saturday that halts implementation as of Wednesday, a compromise between forces that want the Common Core to go forward because they say they will raise academic achievement, and forces who believe the standards are not as good as Indiana’s old ones and want education decisions to be local.

New public hearings on the Core will be held, and by the start of 2015, the State Board of Education will have to vote again to go ahead with it, as it did in 2010, or stop it permanently, according to the Indianapolis Star. There will also be a cost analysis done on core implementation.

The Common Core initiative is a set of common standards designed to raise student achievement that were supported by the Obama administration and adopted, with bipartisan support, by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

In recent months, the forward momentum it enjoyed for a few years — during which two federally funded consortia of states have been designing new standardized tests aligned with the standards — have stalled in a number of places.

Indiana is one of the handful of states that are either pulling back or considering halting the standards, including Alabama, South Dakota and Georgia. The Michigan House recently voted to strip all funding for the Common Core, though the governor, Rick Snyder, says he supports the standards.

There is a range of criticism about the core. Some argue that many of the standards were not well written, while others are concerned that it removes local input from what teachers should teach.

The standards were approved in Indiana when reformer Tony Bennett was the state superintendent and was pushing other reforms as well, including an expansion of charter schools and vouchers allowing public money to be used for private school tuition. But the public turned against Bennett and his reforms, and last November he was voted out. A veteran educator, Glenda Ritz, who wanted more discussion about the core though she was not opposed to them, was voted in.

Bennett was quickly hired by Florida officials to become state superintendent. Though Jeb Bush hasn’t been governor of Florida since 2007, he exerts a great deal of influence on education policy in the state and is a big backer of both Bennett and the Common Core. There is a movement in the state, though, to slow implementation.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · May 13, 2013