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Balls is in Governor Hutchinson's court when it comes to Common Core

From our content partner Talk Business & Politics:

A 17-member panel charged with making recommendations regarding Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has submitted 21 of them to Gov. Asa Hutchinson to consider.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who led the Council on Common Core Review, said earlier in the week that Common Core – a group of common standards in math and English Language Arts – should be made more rigorous and be renamed.

A report issued by the Council said concerns over testing were the most divisive elements of the controversial guidelines.

“Criticism of the CCSS ranges widely from well-founded to completely baseless,” the task force’s report said. “Further, a significant percentage of criticism directed at the CCSS was attributable to frustration and dissatisfaction with other issues, such as testing, associated with the CCSS but not mandated by the CCSS.”

The report also found that educators are “almost unanimous” in the opinion that the old Arkansas standards – known as the “Arkansas Benchmark Standards” – were less rigorous than and inferior to the current CCSS. “Many educators believe that the CCSS are fundamentally and instructionally sound,” the report stated.

Griffin praised the group’s work, which included a nine city listening tour, nearly 60 hours of listening sessions and hearings, and more than 50 witnesses offering a variety of perspectives.

“As the father of two young children in the Little Rock Public School system, this assignment was not simply professional, it was personal,” he said.

The Council’s full findings and recommendations to the governor can be viewed here. A short list of the 21 recommendations can be read at the bottom of this post.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson thanked Griffin and the panel for its work. He said the next step was “to review and discuss these recommendations with the Department of Education and the Board of Education to determine the timing and specifics of proposed changes.”



1. Arkansas maintain complete and unfettered control over our educational standards to ensure that they reflect the highest and best standards for our students and will allow us to succeed in an internationally competitive economy.

2. The Governor require a comprehensive review of the standards with the goal of revising, improving and replacing, as warranted, both the Mathematics and ELA standards and ensuring that the experiences of parents and educators are reflected and utilized in the Arkansas standards. The review should include, for example, an examination and assessment of the mathematics multiplication tables and whether they are sufficiently rigorous. In addition, the review should include the ELA text exemplars to ensure that they are consistent with Arkansas’s educational goals. These examples are merely illustrative and not exhaustive.

3. The Governor continue the work started this year by the Curriculum and Instruction Unit of the ADE surveying Arkansans, especially parents and educators, seeking additional information to be used in the revision of Arkansas Mathematics and ELA standards.

4. The Governor ensure that the standards are reviewed and improved pursuant to the process established in current Arkansas law A.C.A. § 6-15-101 (2015) and the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP) Rules 4.0 or another appropriate process to be determined by the Governor and the Legislature.

5. The standards be seen as a constantly improving set of standards that are routinely reviewed and assessed with the goal of attaining the highest and best standards for our students, considering not only national recommendations but also the experience and lessons learned of our parents and educators.

6. The Governor ensure that changes, revisions and improvements are ongoing and iterative, not a one-time task to be completed.

7. The Governor maintain the current CCSS until changes, revisions and improvements to the standards are implemented.

8. The Governor work to improve communication among the ADE, cooperatives, school districts and schools to ensure that Arkansas’s standards are consistently implemented as intended at the district and school level.

9. The Governor work to improve communication between the ADE, school districts, schools and parents so that there is clear understanding regarding Arkansas’s standards.

10. The Governor instruct the ADE to annotate the standards with footnotes, comments or other instructional devices to ensure that there is consistency of understanding among educators and parents regarding the meaning of provisions, domains, sections, etc.

11. The Governor instruct the ADE to develop a smartphone app for the Arkansas educational standards so that Arkansans have mobile access to the standards and other related materials.

12. Educators should be encouraged to use the most appropriate teaching methods—within their district parameters—to ensure their students master the standards at the highest possible level.

13. The Governor ensure that school districts understand that they are free to use instructional methodology such as CGI, for example, alongside traditional mathematics instructional methodology, among others, and are not restricted to CGI only.

14. Arkansas parents and educators continue to pay special attention to the suitability of Arkansas standards for kindergarten and first grade in particular and make changes in accordance with lessons learned.

15. In compliance with Arkansas law concerning equity in funding, consideration should be given to lower resource/lower funded school districts. The Governor should work to ensure appropriate funding and resources be provided to all school districts so that Arkansas’s standards can be implemented successfully. The Governor should monitor and address any achievement gap as warranted.

16. The Governor work with the ADE and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) to assess student matriculation to and through four-year colleges and universities, two- year colleges, technical schools or vocational schools and military service in order to evaluate student performance.


17. Consideration should be given to students for portfolio assessment in ELA and Mathematics based on the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

18. Arkansas should raise the 1% of student body cap on the testing of special education students to match the federal law which provides for a 2% cap on the testing of special education students.

19. The Governor stay the course and use the test prepared by ACT because it reduces the testing time and is aligned with college and career readiness standards.

Data Privacy

20. The Governor work with the legislature to review the laws governing personally identifiable information and make such laws more restrictive where necessary.

21. The Governor ensure that all third party companies and entities with which the state deals on testing have the most rigorous data protection provisions and policy and Arkansas maintains control of our students’ data.

- See more here.