Arkansas House passes bill prohibiting state from administering test linked to Common Core

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas' House voted Friday to prohibit the state from administering a test linked to Common Core, the controversial education standards that are being reviewed by a task force formed by the state's Republican governor.

By an 86-1 vote, the House voted to end Arkansas' participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers after June 30. The measure now heads to the state Senate.

The tests are based on the Common Core standards, math and English benchmarks adopted by a majority of states that describe what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students' performance. The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to use them, but Common Core has faced increasing criticism, primarily from conservatives.

Republican Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle, who proposed the legislation, said he didn't view the bill as a larger statement on the Common Core standards.

"One of the greatest enemies and being able to think outside the box is the status quo, and right now the PARCC test is the status quo ... The truth is there are some excellent assessment alternatives that can be looked at," Lowery said.

The PARCC exam, which replaced the Arkansas benchmark exam, would still be used this spring under Lowery's proposal. The legislation doesn't specify what test the state would use in the future.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month appointed Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin to lead a 16-member task force to review Common Core and recommend whether the state should continue participating in the standards. Hutchinson is expected to soon name the members of the panel, which he has said will include educators, parents, business leaders and students.

"The governor does not support automatically renewing the PARCC assessment, and before determining the future on assessments, we want to receive a recommendation from the Council on Common Core Review," Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis said in an email.

Democratic Rep. David Whitaker of Fayetteville, the only lawmaker to oppose the bill Friday, said he shares concerns about PARCC but objected to the Legislature dictating which tests the state should use.

"It seems we have 100 K-12 education experts," Whitaker said after the vote. "I just don't think it's our place to constantly be micromanaging and acting as a 100-member school board for the state of Arkansas."


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