West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano has proposed a repeal of the state's Common Core standards and has suggested replacing them with a new set of measures he believes will ensure the state's students are college and career ready.
The state's teachers, higher education professionals, and other stakeholders wrote the new curriculum after public forums statewide. At the gatherings, parents to politicians were allowed to ask questions about the standards and provide comments on changes they thought were needed.
The result was 101 revised K through 12 education benchmarks to be called the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards. After a 30-day stint on the public comment website, board members will make their final vote to repeal the current Common Core-based standards and replace them in December.
When legislators tried to repeal Common Core during the 2015 session, the bill got stuck in a Senate committee. Lawmakers discussed a new attempt at repealing the measure in 2016, but Martirano said if the state school board approves the standards now, legislative action will become unnecessary.
But House Speaker Tim Armstead (R – Kanawha) was curious as to why the superintendent proposed the repeal and is skeptical of the new standards the school chief has recommended. Armstead confesses that he has not read the new standards, but he is not pleased with the feedback he has received, writes Ashton Marra of West Virginia Public Radio.
"The initial sort of feedback we're getting is that this isn't a huge change from what we already had," he said. "If we're looking at just tweaking what we already have, I think that's not going to work," Armstead said. "I don't think that's going to get us where we need to go."
Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer) has requested a comparison of the Next Generation Content Standards based on Common Core and changed by West Virginia teacher work groups before they were adopted, and the College and Career Ready Standards.
Martirano countered by saying:
"I listened to our experts who are trained in this arena and we've developed a tremendous product that all West Virginians should be very proud of right now."
The new standards will give teachers more autonomy and flexibility and will highlight problem-solving skills related to college and careers, as well as life skills, according to a news release from the education department.
The Associated Press reports that during the first legislative session controlled by Republicans in 80 years, GOP lawmakers did not get rid of the standards, in part due to the $128 million price tag initially estimated for the repeal. Department of Education spokeswoman Kristin Margolin Anderson said the last estimate came to $1.5 million, which included a longer review timeline and other issues like assessments.
The inclusion of the community review element cost $300,000, mostly because of assistance from West Virginia University, said Anderson. The board adopted the standards in May 2010 and then they were incrementally implemented before full adoption in the 2014-15 school year.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) said he had confidence that West Virginia will maintain quality standards.