Lawmakers Move to Preserve State Control Over Education Standards

An eighth grade social studies class in Lorain, Ohio (photo by Bill Rice)
An eighth grade social studies class in Lorain, Ohio (photo by Bill Rice)
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Changes to House Bill 487 passed by the senate last week would prohibit the state board from developing new standards in social studies and science in collaboration with other states, as was done with the Common Core math and English standards.

Ohio has already developed new social studies and science standards on its own.

The Common Core, developed and adopted by 44 states, has come under fire from some in Ohio who see the multistate collaboration as relinquishing state control of what and how Ohio's kids are taught.

Senator Tom Sawyer, a Democrat who sits on the education committee, supports the changes. His taker is that they don't bring any change to state education policy. But, he says, "they are designed to give comfort to those who have had CONCERNS about the way we go about establishing curriculum, textbook selection and the fundamental elements of education policy in Ohio.

"I believe that what we passed in the senate provides that comfort," Sawyer says.

The bill would also create new academic standards review committees, with members appointed by the Senate President, the House Speaker, the governor, the state Superintendent of Schools and state Chancellor. It would make local school districts the sole authority in determining curriculum, as well as textbooks and other learning materials. And it would discount Common Core-aligned test results as factors on school report cards and teacher evaluations in their first year.

The tests are being given on a trial run basis this year in select schools. They'll be given to students in grades 3-8 for real starting in 2015.

Clarification: An earlier headline to this story suggested that Common Core includes content knowledge in science and social studies. It does not; however, Common Core does include guidelines on teaching students to read and understand material in those topic areas as subsets of English Language Arts.

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