North Dakota Bill Targets Common Core in Both Substance and Name

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — February 08, 2017 2 min read
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In North Dakota, some state legislators are trying—unsuccessfully, so far—to ramp up their efforts to replace the Common Core State Standards in substance as well as in name.

A bill that would have prohibited North Dakota from adopting standards for English and math instruction that align with the common core failed to pass the state’s House of Representatives earlier this week, WDAY reports.

The bill would have barred the state from participating in any multistate consortia focused on school curriculum (such as the Smarter Balanced and PARCC consortia of states, which developed assessments aligned to the common core) and directed it to develop standards that are explicitly not aligned to the common core.

Supporters argued that the bill would allow North Dakota to have control of its standards, assessment, and curriculum. Opponents of the bill were concerned that it would have been inefficient and lead to a waste of effort by the state education department, according to WDAY. They were also concerned the bill could cost the state federal funds.

Though the bill failed, it represented a new twist on state legislators’ efforts to break away from the common core.

North Dakota is in the midst of replacing the common-core standards, which it adopted in 2011, with a new set written by the state. The state’s new math and English learning standards are available for a second round of public comment now; a third draft is expected in April, according to the North Dakota education department. A early revision received some criticism for its resemblance to the common core.

A recent study found that most of the 21 states that have made or are making revisions to the common core haven’t made substantial changes. Most changed formatting or wording to clarify individual standards rather than adopting dramatically different standards. That’s led to concerns among some opponents of the common core. For instance, one writer referred to North Carolina’s standards-revision process as “putting lipstick on a pig.”

But the effort to completely wall states off from the influence of the common core may be futile: The fact that more teachers find resources online means that common core-aligned lessons are in use even in states that never adopted the standards.

It’s also a reminder that the common core remains a political hot button. President Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway said this week that Trump plans to repeal the common core (an implausible action, given that content standards are set by states, not the federal government).

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.