Bill Description: This bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt the draft Idaho Content Standards for English language arts, mathematics, and science and the Idaho Standards for Initial Certification of Professional School Personnel prepared by the standards review committee in July 2021.
Analyst’s Note: Common Core standards function as a centrally planned blueprint for classroom instruction. The Core set English language arts and mathematics content standards for the curriculum every school district would adopt at every grade level.
Since Common Core went into effect, student performance in Idaho has declined compared to pre-Common Core performance. For example, according to the Nation’s Report Card, reading scores for 8th grade Idaho students improved 6 points between 2003 and 2013 but have decreased four points since 2013. (Idaho adopted Common Core in 2011 and the standards went into effect during the 2013-2014 school year). Between 1990 and 2011 (before Common Core), Idaho students in grade 8 consistently improved on mathematics assessments. Test scores climbed from 271 in 1990 to 287 in 2011 and slightly dipped to 286 in 2013. But since 2013, Idaho students have remained stagnant on the subject and performance remains below pre-Common Core levels.
Decreased student performance and outcomes is one negative effect of Common Core. Others include decreased accountability for results, impairments to informed school choice and reduced academic competitiveness, both within the U.S. and with foreign countries.
The Idaho standards review committee of 2020-2021 tried to repeal and rewrite Common Core, renamed the Idaho Content Standards. Building on the work of the committee, House Bill 716 directs the State Board of Education to begin aligning the required standards assessment with the newly written draft standards for ELA, mathematics and science, which the standards review committee developed. These standards will be adopted for a five-year period and will be “subject to a review and adoption cycle.” The bill authorizes the State Board of Education to immediately develop temporary rules and use the negotiated rulemaking process to implement the new standards.
In addition, the bill gives the board of trustees for each school district until June 30, 2024, to adopt any curricular changes needed for them to follow the new content standards.
Next, House Bill 716 directs the State Board of Education to work with the U.S. Department of Education “to ensure that Idaho is implementing a plan to meet the requirements of the every student succeeds act of 2015.”
Finally, House Bill 716 provides that the set of standards prepared by an educator standards working group in February 2022 will become Idaho’s standards for initial certification of professional school personnel. The current standards for professional school personnel require teachers and other school personnel to be versed in culturally responsive pedagogy as defined by critical race theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings. It is difficult to determine if the new standards are an improvement without conducting a thorough review.
Additionally, it is difficult to determine how the new content standards will improve Idaho’s school system, compared to Common Core. Content experts need to make an extensive and thorough review of these new standards to determine their efficacy and worth. Since the outcome of this process is not clear, we cannot assign a numerical rating to this bill.
Replacing Common Core state standards is a worthy effort. But the fundamental issue with establishing statewide content standards is that they rest on the faulty premise that a single, centralized entity knows what’s best for the thousands of students statewide. Lawmakers who want to raise the bar in education should start with putting the real experts in charge: students’ parents.
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