The U.S. Department of Education has made a strong effort to encourage states to adopt so-called “Common Core” national curriculum standards. Some 45 states have done so. But Texas is not one of them. The other holdouts are Alaska, Nebraska, Virginia, and—partially—Minnesota.
The Common Core project has become increasingly controversial as states implement tests and teacher evaluations tied to the Common Core standards. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan just this month has bowed to pressure from AFT for a moratorium on the use of Common Core criteria for teacher evaluation, authorizing states with federal grants tied to the Common Core to defer such evaluation practices.
Meanwhile, the Texas legislature has put an exclamation point on the state’s determination not to take part in the Common Core project at all. In the recent regular session, lawmakers passed HB 462 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), which forbids adoption by the State Board of Education or use by Texas school districts of the Common Core curriculum guidelines to determine essential knowledge and skills to be taught in Texas schools. The bill adds that a school district “may not be required to offer any aspect of a common core state standards curriculum” and that the Texas Education Agency “may not adopt or develop a criterion-referenced assessment instrument” for accountability purposes that is based on “common core state standards.” HB 462 was signed into law on June 14 by Gov. Perry, taking effect immediately.
According to Rep. Huberty’s statement of intent during debate on HB 462, the legislation aims only to “prevent the outright adoption of national common course standards in lieu of our state adopted standards.” He further clarified that use of some Common Core materials would not be prohibited where the national standards overlap with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills—“for example, where algebra is algebra.” Thus, Huberty further said, “textbooks” that may be based on Common Core standards could be used if they also comply with Texas standards.