Otter reaffirms support for Common Core

The tide may have turned in Idaho’s debate over Common Core standards, Gov. Butch Otter said Wednesday — and Otter said he remains a steadfast supporter.

Otter, square, 1.8.15
Gov. Butch Otter

“We’ve overcome most of the resistance to (Common Core),” Otter said in a briefing with reporters. “We’re going to continue to resist any efforts to change it.”

Otter discussed Idaho’s experience with the math and English language arts standards during a conference call organized by the Collaborative for Student Success, a national pro-Common Core group that describes itself as a “grant-making initiative.”

Idaho adopted its Idaho Core Standards in the fall of 2013. This spring, the Common Core-aligned Idaho Standards Achievement Test by Smarter Balanced will be used for the first time as a measure of student growth and school performance.

While one resolution proposes a repeal of the Idaho Core Standards, there have been several attempts to slow down or stop the so-called SBAC, a lengthy online exam that will take several hours to complete. A resolution requiring state superintendent Sherri Ybarra to present alternatives to SBAC passed a Senate committee Tuesday, with backing from West Ada and Boise school district officials and the Idaho Education Association.

Concerns about the “magnitude” of testing are legitimate, Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Karen Nussle told reporters, but the adoption of Common Core standards is not the root cause of increased testing in schools. “The problem is, Common Core gets blamed for everything under the sun,” she said.

Still, Nussle maintains that the backlash against Common Core is losing momentum. Critics have been able to use the issue to stoke criticism of the federal government — but get hung up when it comes to writing a substitute.

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“It’s pretty tough to have high standards that don’t look like Common Core,” she said. “It’s one thing to be against the words. It’s another thing to say what you’d be for.”