PHOENIX — Calling them a federal “dictate,” Sen. Al Melvin persuaded Republican colleagues in the Senate to vote Tuesday to scrap the Common Core education standards the state and schools adopted just four years ago.
The Tucson Republican’s legislation prohibits the state Board of Education from doing anything more to implement the standards specifying what students should be learning at all stages of their education. It also means schools that have put them in place will have to dump them.
SB 1310 also requires the state to withdraw from the multistate Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which is developing the testing to determine if students have learned what they need.
Melvin, pressed in floor debate Tuesday to identify what in the Common Core standards he does not like, provided no answer.
“I leave it to you to find them,’’ he told Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson. Instead, Melvin said he was simply reflecting what he said is the will of a majority of Arizonans who said they do not want Common Core.
“We can do a better job at the state level than the federal government dictating standards,’’ Melvin said.
But Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said Melvin is off-base in saying these standards are federal mandates. He said they were developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, “Republican and Democratic governors coming together to look at how we are going to advance our education system throughout our entire country.’’ And that includes current Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.
In the end, with what appears to be party-line GOP support to scrap the standards, it may fall to Brewer to save them.
In an unusual move, the governor is warning lawmakers to back off or face a possible veto.
“Gov. Brewer would have serious concerns with any legislation that endorses mediocrity by lowering the expectations for Arizona students,’’ gubernatorial press aide Andrew Wilder said.
The essence of Common Core is to lay out particular skills students are supposed to acquire at set points during their education.
It includes assessment tests administered online. Since all participating states should be teaching the same thing at the same time, it will allow for direct comparisons. For high school students, that is replacing the AIMS test — short for Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards — that has been used as a graduation requirement.
If Common Core is scrapped, the state Board of Education would again have to come up with local standards. It then would require state school officials to use the Scholastic Aptitude Test to determine whether high schoolers have learned what they should to graduate.