NEW ORLEANS — A 26-member panel of Louisiana educators overwhelmingly approved a package of revisions Tuesday to the Common Core education standards used in the state, although two members questioned whether teachers can be adequately prepared to make the transition in time for the next school year.
Tuesday’s vote of the Louisiana Student Standards Steering Committee was the culmination of months of work set in motion last year by state lawmakers. It was a compromise at the Legislature between Common Core critics who wanted the standards scuttled and business interests and self-styled reformers who supported the multi-state standards.
The panel approved a proposal that 18 percent of the English standards be changed, and 26 percent of math standards. The package goes next to the Board of Elementary and Secondary for a vote in March. That would be followed by reviews by Gov. John Bel Edwards and legislative committees.
Twenty-one of the 26 members voted for the proposal. Three were absent. Two abstained — Scott Richard of the Louisiana School Boards Association and Hollis Milton of the Louisiana School Superintendents Association — abstained.
They said the standards should be tied to a requirement that teachers be provided with assessment guides and other materials in time to prepare to teach to the standards.
“If we’re going to adopt new standards we need to make sure that there’s complete alignment of all the resources that should accompany the standards,” Richard said after the meeting. “You don’t want to roll out brand new standards as a school year starts.”
The committee later adopted a unanimous resolution calling on BESE and the Department of Education to provide teachers with the needed materials and to provide information on the standards to parents.
The department said Tuesday it plans to issue a support plan later this month with adjustments districts and schools should make in anticipation of the standards’ final adoption.
Although the process has had critics from the beginning, the abstentions were the only hint of controversy at the meeting in New Orleans, which dealt with what had been a politically volatile topic a year earlier.
That’s when then-Gov. Bobby Jindal, a conservative Republican with presidential aspirations, did an about-face and began fighting Common Core.
Common Core standards were adopted by more than 40 states to better prepare students for college and careers. But they have come in for criticism both practical and political.
Conservatives have labeled them an attempt to nationalize education and wrest control from state and local authorities. Other opponents, including teacher union leaders, have said the standards are not appropriate for some grades and that they were adopted too quickly in Louisiana.
Even after the compromise, some critics expressed concern that the review panel would simply rubber stamp current standards. Sanford stressed that every standard was reviewed and discussed thoroughly. She said that the more than 100 educators tasked with reviewing the standards put in some 9,000 hours of work on the effort.
The result, according to documents distributed at the Tuesday meeting, were revisions aimed at making the standards age- and grade-level appropriate in the early grades, while improving clarity for teachers and students.
In math, for example, requiring students to divide a figure into different sections to find its total area had been criticized as too complex for third-graders. It becomes a fourth-grade standard under the proposed standards.