West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed HB 2711 into law last week. It directs the West Virginia State Board of Education in several ways, the board:
(1) Is prohibited from implementing the Common Core academic standards;
(2) Shall allow West Virginia educators the opportunity to participate in the development of the academic standards;
(3) Shall provide by rule for a cyclical review, by West Virginia educators, of any academic standards that are proposed by the state board;
(4) Shall review assessment tools, including tests of student performance and measures of school and school system performance, and determine when any improvements or additions are necessary;
(5) Shall consider multiple assessments, including, but not limited to, a state testing program developed in conjunction with the state’s professional educators with assistance from such knowledgeable consultants as may be necessary, which may include criterion referenced tests;
(6) Is prohibited from adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessment system or the PARCC assessment system as the statewide summative assessment;
(7) Shall review all accountability measures, such as the accreditation and personnel evaluation systems and consider any improvements or additions deemed necessary; and
(8) Shall ensure that all statewide assessments of student performance are secure.
(c) The state board shall not adopt any national or regional testing program tied to federal funding, or national or regional academic standards tied to federal funding, without oversight by the legislative oversight commission on education accountability.
The question is this, will this law change the standards? The West Virginia State Board tweaked the standards recently, and the Charleston Gazette reported that education leaders say no.
“We are fine with that and we are beyond Common Core,” state Schools Superintendent Steve Paine said of the line while testifying at an April 6 Senate Education Committee meeting.
“No, it’s not going to require them to do that at all,” Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association school employees union, said of the notion that the bill could force the state board to change. “In my opinion, it just prevents us from going back to Common Core standards, which we don’t have anyway and haven’t had in a while.”
He used the common argument that West Virginia’s standards have been similar and even predate Common Core.
“I’m not concerned at all, because if you took that literally that you couldn’t adopt any standards that were in Common Core standards, you wouldn’t have any standards,” Lee said.
“I never really thought of it as being challenged in court,” said A.J. Rogers, executive director of the West Virginia Association of School Administrators. “But I know the organization is very much in favor of leaving the standards alone and letting the teachers teach.”
Rogers has said his organization includes almost all county public school system superintendents. He said the group still wants Justice to veto the bill because it nixes the current Regional Education Service Agencies.
“We felt the Common Core was repealed when [former superintendent] Dr. [Michael] Martirano stood before the Legislature last year and said Common Core is repealed,” Rogers said.
Since the state board tweaked a few standards, education leaders believe they can ignore the law. If West Virginia does not successfully implement the law, I hope someone sues. Educrats need to be held accountable.