North Dakota is going to dump Common Core and replace it with rewritten standards crafted by the state’s teachers, the state’s top education official announced Tuesday.
Superintendent for Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler said the state will create two committees of about sixty middle school, high school, and university educators to create new math and science standards “written by North Dakota teachers … for North Dakota students.” The new standards will then be reviewed by three other committees consisting of elected officials, business leaders, and parents. The standards will also be available in advance for public input.
Baesler says she hopes to have the standards completed and ready to go by the fall of 2017.
North Dakota has used Common Core since 2010. Republican legislators made a major attempt to repeal it in 2015, but the effort failed. Now, the standards are on their way out thanks to a bureaucratic decision.
Baesler’s abrupt announcement could be an electoral calculation. She is running for reelection this fall and her only opponent, Joe Chiang, is a vocal critic of Common Core. Baesler only narrowly won the party’s endorsement over Chiang at the recent state GOP convention. Moving to replace Common Core could eliminate it as a political issue and help secure her reelection.
While North Dakota teachers will apparently be starting from scratch, it’s not clear how much will actually change in the end. In the last two years, several states have officially repealed or reformed Common Core only to adopt “new” standards that are extremely similar. In South Carolina, for instance, about 90 percent of its replacement standards are a word-for-word copy of Common Core.
Baesler said the degree of change will depend on what teachers want, and she left open the possibility that very little will change.
“I think that will be the biggest contributing factor to this review process is the experience that our teachers have with these current standards and looking at other states’ standards, to make the adjustments that they feel necessary,” she said, according to the Grand Forks Herald. Similarly, Nick Archuleta of North Dakota United, the state’s largest teachers union, predicted that teachers would “make sure that these standards continue” while fine-tuning them based on their experience with it thus far.
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