Alaska is Bringing Common Core Through the Back Door

Alaska-State-FlagAfter former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said no to the Race to the Top money it looks like Alaska may end up with the Common Core State Standards anyway.

A reader emailed me to let me know that The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development recently announced that they have joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium after adopting new standards.  Below is their press release from April 19, 2013:

Alaska Joins Multi-State Assessment Consortium

JUNEAU – Following a recent adoption of new student standards, Alaska has chosen to join the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), a state-led consortium developing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Because Alaska’s new standards in English/language arts and mathematics have been vetted as college-ready and career-ready, and are sufficiently similar to the Common Core, the SBAC assessments will provide valid and reliable results for Alaska.

“The Smarter Balanced assessment will allow us to compare our students more closely with those around the country and confirm the rigor of Alaska’s standards compared to the Common Core,” said Alaska Education Commissioner Mike Hanley.

SBAC will produce assessments for implementation by the 2014-2015 school year for grades 3 through 8 and 11. These grades meet the current testing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. SBAC also will provide formative assessments that may be used during the year to better prepare students and guide teachers in their instruction.

SBAC also will determine the assessment scores that indicate levels of achievement such as advanced, proficient, below proficient, and far below proficient. For the 11th grade assessment, SBAC will work with higher education to define benchmark scores that indicate whether a student is on track to be college-ready, meaning that students should not need remedial courses in English and math in postsecondary institutions.

Students in SBAC states will take year-end assessments on computers in the spring. The assessments will be adaptive, meaning they are individualized to each student by basing questions on the student’s response to previous questions. This method produces a more accurate understanding of each student’s achievement.
As with Alaska’s current standards and assessments, the use of SBAC assessments does not dictate curriculum or teaching methods. Standards and assessments present a goal. School districts retain their authority to decide how to reach this goal.

The Alaska State Board of Education announced they adopted new standards on June 11, 2012, but made no mention of alignment with the Common Core State Standards or how the standards were developed.  The state board announced on December 19, 2011 a public comment period for the new standards that would go through May 12, 2012, but again no mention of the Common Core State Standards or how these standards were developed.

As with other states there was not a vote by the Alaska State Legislature.

If you look at Alaska’s math standards you can see they are aligned with the Common Core Math Standards.  Now compare the Alaska ELA standards with the Common Core ELA Standards.  Yet there is no recognition from the Common Core State Standards Initiative that Alaska has signed an MOU.

I’m curious who authorized them to do this?  The larger question is after fighting centralization off why would they give in, and then do it under the radar? 

Update: Below is a link to the Alaska’s MOU with SBAC.

3 thoughts on “Alaska is Bringing Common Core Through the Back Door

  1. They are identical. Even more so, if you look at the actual MOU, Gov. Parnell actually crosses out the words “Common Core Curriculum” and initials it. However, he leaves in the words “College and Career Ready.” Does he not realize that these are the EXACT words that are in the RTTT that DEFINE the Common Core Criteria? I guess they think those of us North of the Alaska Range are not quite bright!

    They are still denying that it is the common core! Even worse, there are NO TOWNS NORTH OF THE ALASKA RANGE that have the technological capabilities to run the test. From my place near a local school, at 2:30 am on a Friday night, my bandwidth FAILED SBACs test on their web site. That was with 1 computer running.

    EPIC FAIL Governor! And I never even said that to Tony Knowles

  2. Gee, I hope the standards are not weaker, all an effort to look as they they are doing a better job than they might be. The lower 48 has experienced enough with the dumbing down. It was HORRIBLE when I left the better school education system in Western, PA – moving down to Miami, FL The schools down there were so far behind. They made me stop WRITING, I was only allowed to print, until the rest of the class was taught. As a matter of fact, my High School, which USED to be one of the best HS
    in Miami, over the years has become the worst and highlighted with
    funding by Obama himself, Miami Central Senior High School.

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