Idaho’s Path to Common Core Part 1

Filed in Uncategorized by on July 16, 2013 0 Comments

Idaho has the Common Core State Standards, and many other Federal mandates because our Idaho politicians chose to ask, accept and apply for many federal dollars.  This is an outline of some of the education reforms we agreed to in exchange for federal funds.  All of the money from the federal government, or our tax dollars, comes with very specific requirements of how the money will and has to be used. We need you to join the fight to get Idaho’s education back under local control.

ARRA assurances with Signature-In 2009 Governor Otter submitted a Federal application for $491,000,000 in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) SFSF  (State Fiscal Stabilization Fund).Assurance, Application for SFSF funds Final (1)

With this application Idaho submitted “assurances” that our State would pursue education reform in these four assurance areas.

Assurance 1 The State will improve teacher effectiveness and evaluations, merit pay, equitable teacher distributions etc.

Assurance 2 Construction of a SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Data System) this is a system used to gather and store student and teacher information.  Our state had to meet an extensive list of requirements laid out in the American Competes Act and then further defined in Race to the Top and additional grant applications.

Assurance 3 The State will enhance the quality of academic assessments, comply with requirements to make alternate assessments available for those with disabilities.  Take steps to improve State Academic and Achievement Content Standards. Identify and make changes to graduation requirements, academic content standards and coursework. 

Assurance 4 The State agrees to support Struggling Schools under the guidelines laid out in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Idaho was awarded funds because of our plans to complete the requirements in all four areas of reform.

New Standards

Once we took the stimulus funds it was a federal requirement to change our standards.   The exact direction of how Idaho would have to change was defined when we applied for Race to Top.  The Standards had to be common to a significant number of states, we had to participate in a Consortium, and the standards had to be college and career ready. To meet this requirement in our application, Idaho’s universities agreed that students graduating with a common core diploma will be able to enter college without needing remediation.  They signed this agreement on June 2, the standards were released for review on June 1. With one day, and no evidence, or pilot studies our colleges approved these standards. They had to, or we would not meet federal requirements.  This agreement does not mean students will not need remedial classes, it only means they will receive credit for those classes.  It was an agreement to create an easier road to graduation, not a raising of the bar.

The only set of standards that were in development that met all of the federal requirements and the prescribed timeline were the Common Core standards developed by the NGA (National Governors Association) and the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers.)  Both of these organizations receive most of their funding from tax dollars.  These standards were developed in confidential meetings.  Idaho was not represented in the working group.  So even though we had membership in these organizations not a single Idahoan was represented in the meetings where they were developed and discussed.

Idaho now has a new set of Common Core standards.  Unlike our old standards we do not own the copyright.  Idaho has no amendment process if these standards are not working or improving education in Idaho.  Idaho teachers can only add 15% unique Idaho content, but there is no guarantee that this unique material will be represented in the assessments.  The experts that were asked to validate the standards, individuals who were totally on board with a national standard, have refused to validate.

 

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