Arkansas Lt. Gov. recommends changing, renaming Common Core
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said Tuesday he will recommend that the Common Core be made more rigorous and be renamed. Griffin is chairing the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review, a study group appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson that is recommending changes to the educational standards.
The council held hearings and also public meetings across the state. It will meet at the Capitol starting Thursday at 8 a.m. and will work until it it completes its recommendations.
“There’s not something we’re voting on that’s already done,” he said. “We’ve got to create it. It could be an intense deal.”
The Common Core was adopted by most states and was adopted by the Arkansas State Board of Education in 2010, but it has since generated controversy throughout the country among those who consider the standards to be ineffective or a case of federal overreach. The Council serves as an advisory body to Gov. Hutchinson, and final decisions about state standards are made by the State Board of Education. However, State Board decisions can be overridden by legislation, and many legislators are skeptical of the Common Core.
Earlier this year, the Council recommended that Arkansas become the latest state to exit the end-of-the-year PARCC exam and instead use the ACT Aspire exam. Hutchinson followed that recommendation, but the State Board of Education initially voted to to keep the PARCC exam. Under pressure from legislators, the State Board then reversed its decision and voted to adopt the ACT Aspire exam.
Dr. Jay Barth, a member of the State Board, said Tuesday he is “willing to listen to any recommendations.” He said the Board would have to be careful about making quick changes out of respect to the teachers who have been working with the current standards.
“I don’t want to go into all kinds of conjecture about what may happen down the line. I think it’s most important to play out the process that’s in place and that’s been used for long periods of time,” Barth said.
Griffin said he will recommend requiring students in one particular grade to learn their multiplication tables to a factor higher than the currently required factor of 10. Another will be to change the list of suggested books for reading. Teachers are not required to use that list, but Griffin said many of them, busy with their many duties, will simply select those books.
“I think if you treat (the standards) as a sacred document that should never be touched or changed, that’s like reintroducing the old World Book encyclopedias to a dynamic, interactive world. … Nobody would do that to a business plan. Nobody would do that to a game plan. Why would you do that to the standards of our kids?” he said.
However, he said, “That’s not to say that we have to throw everything away. There’s good stuff that we are going to want to replicate in whatever our final product is.”
Griffin said the he would recommend changing the Common Core’s name, “But not as window dressing, but as a reflection of the substantive changes that were made.”
Asked if Arkansas’ standards still would be part of a set of common standards shared by other states, Griffin said, “My recommendation will be that we will have rigorous – more rigorous than we have now – career- and college-ready standards that the ACT will test for us.”