Common Core bill heads to governor’s desk

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will get a bill that stops the Smarter Balanced Assessment in West Virginia’s public schools.

The House and Senate both gave final approval to the bill (HB 4014), referred to as the Common Core bill, during the last day of the 60-day legislative session Saturday.

The measure codifies the repeal of Common Core, which the state Board of Education did last December. The bill puts a review process in place for the new standards, College and Career Readiness Standards, by an appointed panel after those standards have been in place for one year. It also eliminates Smarter Balanced Assessment standardized testing after this school year.

“Looking at the version of the legislation that was passed by the Senate, there were a few areas we felt needed to be addressed,” House Education Committee Chair Paul Espinosa (R-Jefferson) said. “We reached out to the Senate Education leadership and were able to agree on a few relatively minor amendments, but amendments that we thought would strengthen the overall version of the bill.”

A floor amendment in the House Saturday put language in the bill to emphasize the bill’s focus on reducing student time dedicated to testing.

“We wanted to make it very clear that we were only requiring one test in high school, which is consistent with ESSA,” Espinosa said. “It was really a clarifying amendment that we thought should be included, and the Senate agreed to that amendment.”

The bill also keeps the current science standards in place until June 30, 2017.

“While the legislation is perhaps not as strong as when it left the House, I do believe that the legislation that came back from the Senate is going to send a very strong message that we want to make sure that our standards are the strongest standards that we can adopt,” Espinosa said.

Standardized testing time is limited in the bill and it mandates students cannot suffer repercussions if their parents decide to opt them out of the testing.

“If there’s one part of the legislation I would point to as having broad support is that the current assessments that we have consume entirely too much time,” he said.

The House passed the bill 99-0 and the Senate gave it final approval 27-4.

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