Last week, Kansas decided to drop the Common Core–aligned Smarter Balanced tests in favor of having the University of Kansas craft the assessments that Kansas students will take beginning in the 2015–2016 school year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:
After hours of in-depth discussion, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 8–2 to walk away from a years-long effort that Kansas played a lead role in—the Smarter Balanced state consortium that is developing Common Core tests with a federal Race to the Top Grant.
The key concern for board members was that the Smarter Balanced tests—once they are finished and ready for schools in 2015—will be more expensive than commissioning the assessments from [the University of Kansas].…
By choosing KU [assessments] over Smarter Balanced, the Kansas State Board of Education expects to save money though either option means an increase compared to the state’s current math and reading tests. It also will retain greater control over the design and content of the tests than Smarter Balanced would have allowed.
Common Core national standards were adopted by 45 states in 2009 after the federal government incentivized states using a combination of carrots and sticks—including $4.35 billion in Race to the Top (RTTT) competitive grants and No Child Left Behind waivers. But many states, including Kansas, are beginning to have second thoughts.
The Huffington Post reports that 17 additional states are pushing back against Common Core:
In critically reconsidering their agreements to abide by [Common Core State Standards] and its related RTTT high-stakes assessment and data collection requirements, it seems that a number of [Common Core] states are attempting to do exactly that—reinforcing the right of states to listen to the concerns of their citizens and subsequently adjust their own education systems.
For 30 years, Kansas has relied on the University of Kansas to prepare tests for its students. KU said it can prepare tests with nearly all the same features of the Common Core–aligned tests—except their tests won’t cost an estimated $1 million more per year, and, most importantly, educational decision making for Kansas students will stay in Kansas.
As the 2014–2015 deadline for adoption looms near, states still have time to reject Common Core and reclaim their educational decision-making authority.