Missouri Senate OKs bill that would make Common Core optional

Thursday, May 1, 2014 | 6:58 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate passed legislation Thursday that could pave the way for the state to ditch new national benchmarks for student achievement known as Common Core.

Senators voted 23-9 to send the bill back to the House, where it passed earlier this month. The House can now accept the Senate's changes or negotiate a compromise. Both versions would charge groups of educators with developing and implementing new education goals for English, math, science and history by the 2016 academic year.

Indiana is the only state to scrap Common Core in favor of writing its own education standards. More than 40 other states have also adopted the student performance goals.

Critics of the benchmarks in Missouri say lawmakers should have been consulted when the State Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010. They want the state to write its own standards to allow additional public input.

But the Senate left open the possibility for the state to continue using Common Core. Missouri students are scheduled to take Common Core-aligned tests this fall and the bill would allow that to go forward until new standards are adopted. It is also possible under the legislation for the groups to recommend continuing using Common Core or parts of the standards.

"They have the potential to be 0 percent Common Core or 100 percent Common Core," said Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, one of the legislature's loudest critics of the standards.

Opponents criticized the legislation because it allowed the possible continuation of the standards. They said the loophole is contrary to the bill's purpose, which is to eliminate the benchmarks.

"There is nothing to prohibit the exact same standards the bill was designed to reject," said Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City.

The Common Core benchmarks for reading, writing and math replaced a hodgepodge of educational goals that have varied greatly from state to state.

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