Printed on: March 20, 2014

Bill to review tests heads to Otter


BOISE -- Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, carried a bill on the House floor Wednesday that would

establish a committee to review questions asked of students on the state's standardized tests and assessments.

The bill is a response to some critics of the Idaho Core Standards, commonly known as Common Core, who have said the standards leave little room for local involvement in state assessments.

"Most of us agree with some features of Common Core, but Common Core should be molded to Idaho's needs," Bateman said. "We

must be sure the test has Idaho influence and is free of political bias."

The bill passed the Senate 32-2, where it was sponsored by Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls. It won House approval by a 64-4 margin, with four Democrats casting "no" votes. It now heads to the governor for final approval.

Under the legislation, the State Board of Education would establish a 30-member committee to review standardized state assessment questions. The committee would be authorized to make recommendations to revise or eliminate questions. The board would make the final decision on the recommendations.

The review committee would include parents, teachers, school administrators and school board members from around the state. Each committee member would serve a four-year term. The cost of the committee to the state would not exceed $75,000 a year.

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said while he supports parental involvement in the Idaho education system, he said he had some concerns about the legislation. The Idaho Core Standards provide the skills needed for students to go to college and compete in a national and global job market, Rusche said.

"I would hope this review committee does not undo the good that can be done with having a core standard that all children would acquire," he said.

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said school districts would maintain the ability to direct curriculum at the local level and defended the importance of establishing the core standards in Idaho.

"Common Core in Idaho is an Idaho undertaking," he said. "Common Core in Idaho is not a federal government activity. It is not a consortium of states activity. I think, unfortunately, there is an idea out there ... that if we don't stand up, we're going to lose our Idaho sovereignty."

Bateman said the legislation provides extra protection from the federal government's encroachment into a state's ability to manage its own education system.

"Simply put, people are really concerned about national, centralized planning and promotion of a one-size set of standards for the whole country," Bateman said.

Follow reporter Christina Lords on Twitter @IFPost_Lords.