Legislative Leaders Revoke Common Core Agreement

Aug 5, 2015

West Virginia’s Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead have sent a letter to two national organizations rescinding the state’s 2009 agreement over the Common Core standards.

Senate President Bill Cole, House Speaker Tim Armstead.
Credit West Virginia Legislature

In a letter Monday to the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, Cole and Armstead revoke the 2009 Memorandum of Agreement between the state and the groups which led to the creation West Virginia’s Next Generation Content standards. The standards are West Virginia’s version of Common Core.

“This letter represents a symbol of the commitment that we have in the Legislature to repeal these Common Core standards and to eliminate the Smarter Balanced testing for our students once and for all,” Cole said in a release Monday.

The 2009 agreement was signed by then-Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin and House Speaker Rick Thompson, as well as Gov. Joe Manchin and previous state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. It committed West Virginia to taking on a state-led process of reviewing and adapting the Common Core standards to be West Virginia specific.

The West Virginia Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010 and phased them in to state classrooms incrementally. Full implementation of the standards began during the 2014-2015 school year. At the end of that year, students also took the Smarter Balanced Assessment for the first time.

Members of the House of Delegates approved a bill during the 2015 session to repeal Common Core in the state, but in the Senate, the bill was altered to delay any decision until after a year-long review.

That bill ultimately died, but current state Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano has begun the process of a review himself. It began last month with an online public comment period where West Virginians can both read and comment on all of the 936 standards.

"While I firmly believe the West Virginia Next Generation Standards will promote high achievement within our schools, I also acknowledge there is room to strengthen the standards to ensure that all of our young people are prepared for college and future careers," Martirano said in a written statement Tuesday.

West Virginia Board of Education President Mike Green said the review of the standards will continue and he encouraged both President Cole and Speaker Armstead to contribute their own comments to the website.

Members of the Legislature plan to continue looking at a full repeal during upcoming interim meetings. During June meetings, lawmakers on the Joint Education Committee were presented with a draft bill that would repeal both Common Core standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.