February 16, 2015

Bill to hold off on Common Core, tabled in committee

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A proposed moratorium on certain pieces of Common Core testing was tabled on a party-line vote on Monday in a House committee.

Scantron

House Minority Whip, Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, sponsored HB 17, a bill that would limit the effects of Common Core testing.

According to Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Dr. Ellen Bernstein, a witness for Stapleton, the bill would allow the state to better prepare for the standardized test associated with Common Core. Bernstein told the committee that the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, or PARCC, computer based and many students are not proficient in computer skills.

According to their website, PARCC is, “a group of states working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers.” The PARCC exam is a computer-based assessment that New Mexico and other states use to determine student advancement eligibility and overall school grades.

Most of the public comment was devoted to those in support of the bill and a common concern was the readiness of schools from around the state.

Many who spoke presented stories about schools not having enough computers or students getting frustrated with the exam. Some teachers in the audience stressed that they are not against Common Core standards, but that they need more time before the standards are implementd..

One Republican committee member had some concerns about the moratorium. Rep. Dennis Roch, Logan, had a few points that, he said, were concerning. He told New Mexico Political Report that assessments need weight to allow students to graduate.

“All of these pieces are predicated on an assessment that passes muster,” Roch said. “If we say, ‘We’re not going to use that assessment,’ we’ve got to have something to use for graduation, for school grading, for teacher [evaluations].”

He asked, “If you don’t have [PARCC], what do you use?”

Stapleton told New Mexico Political Report she  was not surprised how the committee voted, but was surprised at the amount of time the committee devoted to her bill.

Between the public comment, committee debate and vote, the bill took about an hour in the committee.

Stapleton said her plan was not to do away with the controversial curriculum and testing process, but to improve it.

“My purpose is not to stop PARCC, my purpose is to make sure that the classrooms are ready,” she said.

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