Option: University Approval of State School Standards In Lieu of Common Core Standards   Leave a comment

Dear Governor Herbert,

Thank you for meeting with Alisa Ellis, the national education experts, legislators, and others, including me, this week.

Judging from your questions and those raised by Lt. Gov. Greg Bell after the Governor left the meeting, I want to share the following information with your and your legal and educational staff.

1)  It seems that, despite the fact that states initiated the Common Core, the feds have taken it over and have cornered states.  One evidence of this the ESEA flexibility waiver, (NCLB waiver) which asked Utah to choose Common Core or University approval to replace NCLB.

On page 8 of the ESEA Flexibility document (updated June 7, 2012)  found at  http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility, :   “A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education”.

Thus, since Utah chose option one, we are stuck in Common Core for at least the time the NCLB waiver lasts, by having chosen to accept the NCLB waiver.  If we choose to resubmit our waiver application, we could choose the University Approval option, and be free of the Common Core entanglements and our SBAC membership. Please correct me if I am wrong.

2) Secondly:  The waiver from NCLB http://www2.ed.gov/policy/eseaflex/ut.pdf  seems to commit Utah to the SBAC tests.  On pg. 32 of the waiver Utah checked Option A:   The SEA (state) is participating in one of the two State consortia that received a grant under the Race to the Top Assessment competition.  i. Attach the State’s  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under that competition. (Attachment 6)

Attachment 6 is evidence showing our MOU agreement with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which still shows Utah is a Governing Member.  If and when our state board votes in their August board meeting to withdraw from SBAC, I believe the NCLB waiver will need to be resubmitted to show that we are not in the SBAC.

Again, perhaps the “University Approval” option, which Virginia chose for their waiver, would be a wise path for Utah, rather than “Common Core” if we do resubmit that waiver without the SBAC membership attached.

Thank you for looking into these issues which have such long-term implications for students, parents and teachers.

Christel Swasey

Utah Parent and Teacher

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