What is federal government's role in Common Core?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

While the federal government didn't develop and write the standards, the U.S. Department of Education provided $350 million to the two consortiums developing the assessments.

The department also encouraged states adopting Common Core Standards to be awarded "Race to the Top" grants and waivers for certain requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act.

"Your Department of Education funded Common Core," said Gretchen Logue, co-editor of the Missouri Education Watchdog and researcher for the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core.

"If you've been given money to do a job, are you going to write something that is so antithetical to what the funder wants you to do? No, you're going to use those funds for what the funder wants," Logue said.

State education department spokeswoman Sarah Potter said Missouri received the waiver for No Child Left Behind by adopting Common Core.

However, the waiver called for only college and career-ready standards, and Missouri already had adopted Common Core standards a few years earlier.

Not all states that received a waiver adopted Common Core.

Also, the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core fears the standards may create an indirect path for student information to reach the federal government.

Potter said there are no data-collection requirements for the state to send individual student information to the federal government under Common Core.

DESE turns over aggregate data to the federal government, but not identifiable information for individual students.

Logue said while DESE is not directly sending individual students' data to the U.S. Department of Education, it has signed a memorandum to send student data, teacher data and principal data to the consortia, who can pass on student information to the federal department.

Joe Willhoft, executive director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, is quoted on DESE's website: "I can unequivocally state that there is no agreement, nor discussion of any arrangement between the Smarter Balanced and USDOE regarding transmission of student-level data to the USDOE."

botto@semissourian.com

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