— Indiana on Monday became the first state to formally withdraw from the
Common Core education standards in a move that did little to appease
critics of the national program, who contend the state is simply stripping
the "Common Core" label while largely keeping the benchmarks.
Indiana was among
45 states that in recent years adopted Common Core standards spelling out
what students should be learning in math and reading at each grade level.
Some conservatives have since criticized the initiative as a top-down
takeover of local schools, and in signing legislation Monday to pull
Indiana from the program, Republican Gov. Mike Pence trumpeted the move as
a victory for state-level action.
"I believe when
we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states
around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken
a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew
on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed
standards that meet the needs of our people," Pence said.
The state began
moving away from Common Core last year, when Indiana lawmakers "paused"
its implementation. This year, the Republican-controlled Legislature
approved a measure requiring the State Board of Education to draft new
benchmarks for students.
The draft for
those standards, put out for review last month, has already drawn
skepticism from Common Core critics, including an analyst hired by Pence
to assess the new program. That analyst, retired University of Arkansas
professor Sandra Stotsky, says the proposal is just too similar to Common
an internal Indiana Department of Education report that found that more
than 70 percent of the standards for sixth through 12th grade are directly
from Common Core, and about 20 percent are edited versions of the national
standards. About 34 percent of English standards for kindergarten through
fifth grade were taken straight from the national standards, and an
additional 13 percent were edited.
the proposal a "grand deception." The State Board of Education is
scheduled to vote on it on April 28.
"It makes a fool
of the governor," Stotsky said. "The governor is being embarrassed by his
own Department of Education if the final version is too close to Common
Common Core was
developed by the National Governors Association and state education
superintendents. Indiana adopted the standards in 2010 under
then-Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican. But by 2012, tea party
anger had engulfed the national education standards and conservative anger
over the requirements helped turn Bennett out of office.
dissent have popped up across the country. More than 200 bills on the
national standards were introduced this year and about half would slow or
halt their implementation, according to the National Conference of State
Oklahoma is among
states considering implementing different standards. A state Senate panel
voted Monday in favor of a measure that would effectively halt the use of
The Common Core
replaced a patchwork of varying standards from state to state, and
supporters say it gives both consistency and academic rigor.
Experts on both
sides of the fiery debate have said the Common Core standards are
strikingly similar to ones previously used in Indiana — and any program
the state adopts as an alternative is unlikely to be much different.
Even the original
author of the measure removing Indiana from the national standards, state
Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Carmel, pulled his name from the bill at the last
minute this month after learning that other lawmakers had altered the
measure to require the state to still meet federal requirements so as not
to lose federal funding.
seeing is unsurprisingly pretty closely aligned to the Common Core," said
Michael Brickman, national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham
Institute, a conservative education think tank. "The core of the Common
Core is still very much in place."