Gov. Herbert calls for review of Utah’s education standards, less contention on ‘Common Core’

Posted at 2:46 PM, Jul 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-17 16:58:03-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert announced in a press release Thursday he was calling for an expert and public review of education standards in Utah, and he stated he hopes to address other issues regarding education in Utah, including the contention over “Common Core.”

Herbert listed three principles he believes should guide the state’s actions as they work to improve Utah schools:

  1. Maintain high academic standards in all subjects, and for all students.
  2. Monitor and limit the federal government’s role in education.
  3. Preserve our state and local school district control of our education system, including curriculum, materials, testing and instructional practices.

The controversy around “Common Core” was also addressed.

“As I listen to these concerns, it seems we are too often talking past one another, using different terms to describe shared frustrations,” Herbert stated. “The term ‘Common Core’ has become so contentious that it is dividing us on things we all actually agree on, like the need for local control, setting high standards and preparing our students to succeed. It is time for us to stop talking past one another and to start talking to one another.”

There are three steps to moving forward, according to Herbert. The first is a legal review and report form the Attorney General’s Office regarding Utah’s adoption of Common Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts. Herbert stated the review will, “clarify Utah’s level of control of academic standards, and local districts’ and charters’ control of the curriculum.”

The second step is an evaluation of education standards in mathematics and English language arts by experts, who will be led by Dr. Rich Kendell.

Herbert’s third step is for parents, teachers, organizations and community members to review current standards and offer feedback, which they can do by visiting this website.

“More than ever, we must raise the skill level of our students,” Herbert stated in the release. “We must not shy away from high standards or challenging exams, but work to give our students the best education possible, preparing them to lead successful lives and compete in the global marketplace.”

The State Board of Education issued a press release in response to Herbert’s, which said in part: “The State Board of Education appreciates the Governor’s message in support of our commitment to high educational standards for Utah’s children. We share his concern over the proper role of government and look forward to receiving the Attorney General’s report.”

SAGE testing was another topic addressed by Herbert, who reiterated his support for the computer-based testing system being used in the state.

“Some schools report a lack of technology, which required students to begin testing well before the school year had ended,” Herbert stated. “Other concerns were in regard to the length of time students were spending on individual test questions. There are bound to be bumps in the road during the rollout of any new program, but where there are problems, we will fix them.”

Finally, Herbert asked legislative leaders to work with his administration and the State Board of Education to address privacy issues and testing “to ensure that necessary protections are in place while appropriately using both testing and data to improve educational outcomes for students.”

Herbert stated he shares concerns others have about the type of data being collected and the way that data is being used, which is why he is asking these groups to address those concerns and implement the necessary protections.

The State Board of Education also addressed privacy concerns.

“We are especially appreciative of [Herbert’s] concern over student data privacy,” the release stated. “Last year, the Board passed a resolution affirming our commitment to student privacy in an increasingly digital world.”

Officials with the board of education stated they look forward to working with the governor, legislators, educators and parents to find solutions that benefit students in Utah.