Mo. House Passes Common Core Compromise

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City School District told KOMU 8 News it is glad the legislature decided Thursday not to scrap three years of hard work in implementing the Common Core State Standards.

The standards outline what each student should be able to master at each grade level. Many Missouri districts, including Columbia and Jefferson City, began implementing the standards in 2010.

Those districts have been preparing students to take exams next year through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The tests are online exams and use the common core standards to develop the performance tasks students will encounter on the tests.

The Common Core standards have been adopted in 45 states, but have been controversial nationwide. Some conservative lawmakers have said the standards are streamlined for everyone and undermine the control of local school boards and parents. Some lawmakers and educators have also expressed concern the standards may be too rigorous.

Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles, sponsored legislation in the current session to block the use of the standards in Missouri, unless they could be approved by the General Assembly. 

The House retreated from a full repeal, though, Thursday and passed legislation to ask districts to proceed with the smarter balanced testing next year.

The legislation would require DESE to set up 14-member panels, known as work-groups. The work groups would be made up of lawmakers, education officials and teachers.

A total of four panels would study the core subjects of English, math, reading and science in grades K-5. Four panels would also study those subjects for grades 6-12.

The panels would convene for work on Oct. 1 and would have a year to study what would work best for standards. The panels could elect to use parts of Common Core.

By Oct. 2015, the panels would submit their work to the state's board of education. The board would implement new standards in the 2016-2017 school year.

Jefferson City Public Schools' Superintendent for Staff Services Dr. Gretchen Guitard said she welcomes the plan and sees it as a compromise.

"It would be very disappointing for hundreds of teachers to think that all of the work and conversations and the planning that went into our common core standards would be halted," Guitard said. 

The House sent the legislation over to the Senate Thursday.