The last Michigan committee hearing attempted to answer the question about whether we can change common core standards. State School Board President, John Austin said “absolutely” we have the right to change them but MDE said that we are merely “advocates” and can “ask” for changes.
Michigan isn’t the only state wondering if we can change the standards. The same question came up in at Indiana’s hearing,
The National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers hold the copyright on the Common Core State Standards. Does that mean states can’t change the Common Core?
In an effort to get the facts, The StateImpact presented the question to Achieve spokesman, Chad Colby. His short answer was “yes.”
“States can do whatever they want and always have been able to,” writes Chad Colby in an email to StateImpact. “There is no limit to what changes, additions or subtractions a state wants to make.”
Colby says as a rule of thumb, states are encouraged to add no more than 15 percent to the standards. Otherwise, he says it would negate the “commonness” of the standards.
As to the copyright issue,
Colby says the main reason for copyrighting the standards was to protect the rights of the states who developed them. He says it also helps protects against charges that the federal government had a hand in writing the Common Core.
“The copyright proves that the federal government does not own nor control the standards,” writes Colby.
Colby’s long answer is a bit more complex.
states can make subtractions and changes. But they do so at their own peril, as common assessments being developed by two national consortia test the Common Core as it’s written.
What’s more likely is states could change when a standard is taught. For example, a third grader that had already mastered all of the Common Core’s grade-level expectations could begin learning fourth grade content.
In other words, shifting standards a grade earlier presents no problems, says Colby. However, delaying the teaching of a standard to a later grade could hurt the student’s progression towards college- and career-readiness….
……Still, he says there’s nothing stopping states from making additional changes or modifications: No one is enforcing the 15 percent rule.
Reporter Brian Smith from MLive sent me this link to this article as proof that Michigan can change the standards. However, the article is insufficient proof for several reasons:
1. Achieve does not own the standards. Assurances by their spokesman are not binding but his opinion.
I acknowledge that Achieve is partner in the development of Common Core but the OWNERS are NGA and CCSSO and they are the definitive source on whether a state can make changes. The Achieve spokesman may be be a source of information mixed with opinion but he does not speak for the NGA or the CCSSO.
2. The article says, “there’s nothing stopping states from making additional changes or modifications: No one is enforcing the 15 percent rule.”
No one is “enforcing” because the governing body for the management of Common Core has not been unveiled to the public. Without a governing body the “rule” is not enforced but that does not mean it is NOT a rule that COULD be enforced once the governing body is in place.
The CCSSO website says they are committed to developing a long-term sustainability structure to manage them. Once that body is in place, the 15% rule or any other rule about changes can be imposed upon states. Before Michigan proceeds with the Common Core, we need to know the governing structure and find out exactly what they plan on enforcing.
3. Achieve Spokesman Chad Colby made several confusing statements,
a. “There is no limit to what changes, additions or subtractions a state wants to make.” Colby says as a rule of thumb, states are encouraged to add no more than 15 percent to the standards. Otherwise, he says it would negate the “commonness” of the standards.
b. ” states can make subtractions and changes. But they do so at their own peril, as common assessments being developed by two national consortia test the Common Core as it’s written.”
So is there a 15% rule that is NOT enforced or can we change the standards but are “encouraged” not to because it would negate the “commonness? What form does this “encouragement” not to change take and from whom? And what is the “peril” if Michigan ignores the desire for “commonness” and makes our own changes? And if we can make changes to the standards and the tests, Michigan shouldn’t face any “peril” at all. Right?
4. Colby said, the main reason for copyrighting the standards was to protect the rights of the states who developed them.”
This is patently FALSE The copyright protects the rights of the NGA and the CCSSO who own them. Quoting the website,
“This website and all content on this website, including in particular the Common Core State Standards, are the property of NGA Center and CCSSO, and NGA Center and CCSSO retain all right, title, and interest in and to the same.”
also, under the public license,
“Any publication or public display shall include the following notice: “© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.”
States and territories of the United States as well as the District of Columbia that have adopted the Common Core State Standards in whole are exempt from this provision of the License.”
5. Colby said that the copyright proves that the “federal government does not own nor control the standards.”
The copyright proves that neither the FEDERAL or the STATE government own or control the standard. If it proves it true for one it proves it true for both. Michigan can ask or advocate for change as the Michigan Department of Education stated but if we change them on our own we do so “at our own peril.”
5. This article and Colby’s statements only puts to rest the “change” issue for those who don’t know the facts or those that do and want to deceptively make it appear that states can change them but in practice they cannot.