Wyoming Proves that Common Core is a Federal-Led Initiative
by Shane Vander Hart – Common Core State Standards advocates typically make an argument that the development of the Common Core was state-led since it came out of the National Governors Association and Council for Chief State School Officers. They seem to neglect the fact that these are trade organizations not states and that state legislatures were bypassed as different state departments of education or state school boards said yes to the Common Core.
Can we now agree that the Common Core has been at least federalized? Case in point – Wyoming.
The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the state of Wyoming is facing a fine from the Federal government:
A recent report on the Wyoming Department of Education’s work on a statewide educational accountability system noted delays and lack of compliance in preparing state assessment tests.
The department has been slow to complete contracts and work to align existing state assessments to new requirements, according to the report. The state also faces a fine because the state Education Department has made no progress to gain federal approval to replace the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students with the ACT for 11th-grade students…
… Notably, the department has struggled to establish a writing test, dubbed Students Assessment of Writing Skills. Problems with aligning SAWS with the national Common Core State Standards and accountability act requirements substantially delayed the test’s construction, liaisons said in the presentation. Wyoming adopted the Common Core standards in April.
The National Center for Improvement of Educational Assessment, a firm the state hired to help with accountability work, and an LSO liaison had provided guidance in May for the SAWS alignment.
But in September, WDE officials sought to start the writing assessment one year later than the accountability act requires. WDE officials implied the delay was necessary because the act didn’t match Common Core standards for third-grade writing.
WDE officials eventually continued work on the fifth- and seventh-grade SAWS without further direction from the board or the consultant firm. Those tests, according to the report, do meet state and national requirements, but it questioned the availability of those tests in spring 2013.
The third-grade SAWS still does not include some required components, and WDE’s plans for the exam continue to be noncompliant, according to the report…
…Lack of progress to gain federal permission to switch the tests followed initial contract delays.
In July, the select committee authorized consultants to help the department “aggressively” pursue approval from the federal department, which called for alignment studies and a peer review after an initial request. The department has accomplished no tasks toward that goal, according to the report.
“It appears that WDE is almost working against approval of the ACT instead of vigorously trying to advocate for this system,” the consultant firm concluded.
That consultant, Scott Marion of the National Center for Improvement of Educational Assessment, told legislators he’s seen few cases where states made changes without federal approval, and they were penalized about $60,000.
Let’s be clear that the Common Core is a federal-led, not a state-led effort. If that were not the case Wyoming would not be facing a fine and they would not have to get approval from the Feds. To continue to say the Common Core is a state-led effort is simply ridiculous.