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State abandons ‘common core’ testing


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri formally backed away from the education consortium associated with “common core” testing and won’t be using any materials associated with the group to test Missouri students, state education officials announced earlier this week.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education informed the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium on Wednesday that, as the result of language that common core opponents worked into this year’s budget, the department was prohibited from spending any money as either a member or licensee as a member of SBAC.

“I am writing to inform the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that Missouri will not continue as a licensee of materials for the 2015-2016 school year per section 2.2.d of the MOU,” write assistant DESE commissioner Sharon Helwig in a letter to SBAC Executive Director Tony Alpert. “The appropriations bill passed by the legislature and signed by the governor contains language preventing the agency from spending money as a member or licensee of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.”

The official withdrawal from SBAC marks yet another victory for lawmakers looking to defeat a move by some education officials in the state to formalize standards of education nationally in the form of the common core standards. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a vocal opponent of common core, championed the language in HB 2 that forced DESE’s somewhat reluctant exit from the SBAC.

“Without any question, this is a major victory for Missouri school children, their parents, and all opponents of the Common Core scheme,” Schaefer, a candidate for Attorney General in 2016, said. “Conservatives in the legislature spoke clearly on this issue, and, this time, the administration listened.”

Last year, state Rep. Kurt Bahr and other common core opponents pushed through language requiring the state to form working groups to meet in public over the next year to come up with a set of Missouri-specific standards, rather than adopting anything from SBAC. Lawmakers are preparing to hear the first reports on those working groups in just a few weeks.

“Every step Missouri can take away from the continued overreach of the Obama administration and its one-size-fits-all, leftist Common Core agenda is a win for our children,” Schaefer said. “I want to thank Representatives Kurt Bahr and my House Budget counterpart Tom Flanigan for their leadership and foresight on this issue as well.”

Bahr took to Twitter to send out a copy of the letter from DESE and called it a “big step to finally getting rid of common core.”

Read a full copy of the letter from DESE here.