The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to repeal and replace the state's Common Core academic standards.
West Virginia adopted the Next Generation Standards (Common Core-based) in 2011, but they will be replaced by the West Virginia College and Career Readiness Standards for Language and Math beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.
Before the vote, more than 5,000 West Virginia residents offered input on the change. State Board of Education President Mike Green said this is just the beginning because West Virginia educators will be working to improve the standards every single day.
Also adopted was a revised policy that will reduce the number of tests given in the state's schools. Social studies testing has been eliminated in all grades, and science testing will only be required in grades 4, 6. and 10, according to Matt Heckel of WSAZ-TV Charleston.
In November state schools Superintendent Michael Martirano recommended getting rid of the Next Generation standards after pressure from Republican legislators and parents to throw them out.
The new state standards will include handwriting classes in K through 4th grade and a requirement for students to learn the multiplication tables by the end of the 3rd grade, writes Brooke Thibodaux of the Associated Press. Testing will also be limited to eight hours for grades 3 through 8. A total of 12 hours of testing will be needed for grades 4, 6, and 10 because of an additional science test. Cursive and long italic handwriting will be put back into the curriculum.
According to the West Virginia Department of Education, the new standards will give teachers more flexibility and autonomy and will focus on problem-solving skills that link to college, careers, and life skills. But critics have said the new standards and Common Core are too similar to constitute a useful shift.
"I believe this process was transparent and I am proud of the work that has been done to develop a set of revised standards that are unique to West Virginia and developed with the input of our state residents and education experts," Green said. "These proposed new standards not only increase rigor and ensure developmental appropriateness, but also provide a foundation to ensure our students are equipped with the skills needed for college, careers and the 21st century world of work."
West Virginia is the latest state to repeal the Common Core standards. Legislators in Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina eliminated the standards in 2014, and a New York task force that was chosen by Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a recommendation that the state re-examine and rename the measures last week following a significant backlash from the public concerning testing, reports the Williamson Daily News.
Common Core was developed by a bipartisan cohort of governors and state education officials nationwide. The standards detail what subject areas and information students need to know before they graduate from high school. How this would be accomplished was left to school districts and states.
WVNS-TV's Cortney Vannatter asked a local teacher what he thought about the change. John Quesenberry, a history teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, said the excessive standardized testing should have been eliminated long ago. He added that too much instructional time was lost to preparing students for and administering the state standardized tests.
Quesenberry is worried that more instructional time will be allotted to math and reading/English classes and will, therefore, lessen the time given to history education, but he added that getting back to basics is a good thing.
"We should have basic skills, basic concepts that students need to learn and then we should teach them how to think, and empower them to have the tools to make good decisions and stand by their own conviction."