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Idaho education leaders discuss next steps to replace Common Core

Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 716 into law Wednesday, replacing Idaho's English language arts, mathematics and science standards with new ones.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra and Gem State lawmakers held a news conference Thursday on the east steps of the statehouse to discuss the next steps to replace Common Core. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 716 into law. The Idaho House overwhelmingly passed the bill with a 67-3 vote March 7.

The legislation replaces Idaho's English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science standards with new content standards for the state’s 310,000 K-12 students.

House Concurrent Resolution HCR39 -- a companion resolution to eliminate the old content standards -- was adopted by both the House and Senate and is scheduled to take effect July 1. HB 716 also becomes law July 1.

“I want to thank all the educators who supported this work. Their input and support in rewriting our standards was essential,” Ybarra said in a news release Thursday. “I also want to thank all the legislators who held numerous public hearings on the content and certification standards and who spent countless hours working on the review committees. We all share a commitment to make sure Idaho students get the best education possible.”

Representative Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls), the chairman of the House Education Committee, said the changes, known as “Idaho Content Standards,” would not make a huge difference from current standards, but the new ones will upgrade the old.

“Common Core really raised the bar and the question is 'did we raise the bar too fast, too high?,'” Clow said. “These standards on English language arts and math, they've been around for twelve years so they are not brand-new standards that are being rejected.”

RELATED: Idaho bill to replace content standards in public schools moves to the Senate

Part of the new mathematical standards includes reducing the number of standards, using less complex verbiage and making certain standards requiring problem-solving, age-appropriate.

 "There were several things that were problematic particularly with the math and I think they were too confusing so we simplified them," Senator Steven Thayn (R-Emmett) said. 

On Thursday, Clow said updating and simplifying the standards is "really important work," and added Idaho lawmakers found the change critical enough to "move it forward through the lawmaking process." 

The legislation also covers new certification standards for personnel of professional schools, according to the Idaho State Department of Education.

According to Clow, several education groups -- including the Idaho Education Association, The Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of Superintendents -- supported the passage of both bills.

During the news conference at the statehouse, Ybarra said the Idaho State Department of Education is creating "crosswalk" documents to detail how the legislation changes the state's new standards. Ybarra said the information will be used by teachers to use the updated standards in lessons in the fall.

Thursday's full news conference on KTVB's YouTube channel is included below: 

Common Core math and ELA standards were first adopted in 2011 and modified in 2015. Ybarra's department oversaw the development of the new standards. 

According to Rep. Sally Toone (D-Gooding), who worked on the science standards, the new curriculum would do away with using the phrase climate change.

"It is now climate variability," Toone said. "You know teachers worked on it, and they were worried about teaching climate, you just cant not, look what's happening in the world, how are you going to take real-life experiences and teach that to the kids?"  

According to Ybarra, the price tag is still to be determined, but funding to implement the new curriculum will range from 9 million to 55 million over a three-year period. 

“The signing of House Bill 716 puts Idaho students on an even better path toward increased achievement as we move forward,” Ybarra said. “Our teachers and students will be well served by these new standards.”

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