A Common Core Bill Passes West Virginia House

West Virginia State Capitol Building - Charleston, WV Photo credit: O Palsson (CC-By-2.0)
West Virginia State Capitol Building – Charleston, WV
Photo credit: O Palsson (CC-By-2.0)

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 4014 on Friday by a 73 to 20 vote margin. As it is currently written the bill does a number of things (list courtesy of A.P. Dillion):

  • Puts off using the Next Generation Science Standards until 2017
  • Introduces digital learning
  • Creates an “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel”
  • Rescinds the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  with the CCSSO and NGA
  • Withdraws West Virginia from the SBAC
  • Prohibits the State Board of Ed  from adopting or using Common Core aligned tests
  • Orders the State Board of Ed to review their state summative testing scheme
  • Grants parents the ability to opt their child out of testing
  • Prohibits the ‘discipline, punishment, or grade reduction’ of any student who opts out
  • Testing can’t take more than 2% of a student’s yearly instruction time

As with any bill the devil is in the details. What will the “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel” do? Dillion provided the description from the bill, the key section is below:

Using the West Virginia College – and – Career – Readiness Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics as a framework, review and revise the standards, including additions, deletions, and edits based upon empirical research and data to ensure grade-level alignment to the standards of states with a proven track record of consistent high-performing student achievement in English Language Arts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and in Mathematics, on both the National Assessment of Educational Progress and Trends in Math and Science Study international Assessment.

Remove Common Core strategies that require instructional methods.

Where have we seen this before? In every state that offered a review and replace bill who ended up with a rebrand. Could West Virginia end up with better standards? Yes, but it’s not encouraging to see that the current standards – Common Core math and ELA standards will be the framework used as they “review and revise.”

I don’t want to bash the bill, knowing the players involved I think their intentions are noble, and if some good people land on the “Academic Standards Evaluation Panel” they could end up with better standards. There are also a number of other positive steps in this bill, especially related to assessments, that we can laud. Over all I would say this is a positive bill.

It heads to the West Virginia Senate whose leadership has been known to tank good Common Core bills, the last one was a straightforward repeal bill they gutted until it did nothing. The review process implemented by the State Board of Education has also been a joke. This bill at least requires the state to leave Smarter Balanced and break rescind the MOU they had with the NGA and CCSSO. Hopefully that language, and the assessment language, survives the West Virginia Senate.