LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas should continue using Common Core but conduct a broader look at where to change and replace the education standards that have been criticized by some conservatives, a task force recommended to the governor Thursday.
The Governor's Council on Common Core Review unanimously approved a set of recommendations that called for the state's "complete and unfettered control" over the standards, but didn't call for an outright end to the use of Common Core. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson formed the 17-member panel earlier this year to take a look at the standards.
Republican Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who chaired the council, said he didn't view the recommendations as punting on the larger question about Common Core's future in the state. Griffin said he didn't think it makes sense for the state to drop Common Core before it reviews how to replace the standards.
"That's like saying I'm going to get a new car but I'm going to get rid of the car I've got even though I haven't found a new one yet," he told reporters shortly before the vote.
The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks that have been adopted by a majority of states and 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.
The council didn't recommend specific changes to Common Core, but said the state should review whether mathematics multiplication tables are rigorous enough under the standards. The council also recommends Arkansas develop a smartphone app for its educational standards so people can have access to them and related materials.
The task force, which has been holding hearings around the state, recommended last month that Arkansas replace a standardized test aligned with Common Core. The state Board of Education initially rejected the plan to replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium test with one administered by ACT, but reversed course after Hutchinson ordered education officials to withdraw from PARCC.
Hutchinson on Thursday thanked the council for its work, but didn't indicate which recommendations he would follow.
"My next step is to review and discuss these recommendations with the Department of Education and the Board of Education to determine the timing and specifics of proposed changes," he said in a statement released by his office.
State Education Commissioner Johnny Key said his department is already conducting a review of the math and English standards and will incorporate any of the governor's recommendations into that review.
"I hope the conversation can shift away from a brand, which Common Core state standards is a brand, to what are the Arkansas standards that we need to have the ability to move our state forward," Key told reporters.
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