Massachusetts Reformers Collect Enough Signatures for Common Core Ballot Question

Published January 4, 2016

A grassroots organization pressing for repeal of Common Core in Massachusetts announced it successfully collected enough signatures to have a question regarding the removal of the K–12 educational standards put on the 2016 ballot.

In early December 2015, the grassroots organization End Common Core MA submitted 80,000 signatures already certified by town clerks to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office. The group needed 64,750 to get the Common Core repeal question on the ballot for the 2016 general election. If Galvin approves the signatures, the ballot measure would be submitted to the state’s legislature in January. If legislators fail to approve the ballot question, additional signatures could be collected in order to get the proposal on the ballot.

Headlines—such as NPR’s “Massachusetts Drops Federal Common Core Test, Aiming At Its Own,” The New York Times‘ “Massachusetts’s Rejection of Common Core Test Signals Shift in U.S.,” and PBS NewsHour’s “Massachusetts drops Common Core test, will develop own student evaluations”—have some parents and activists concerned the public is being misled into thinking the state is dropping Common Core.

‘Just a Rebranding’

Media outlets inaccurately reported the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted to scrap Common Core-aligned testing. What BESE voted for was a hybrid test combining Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) questions aligned with Common Core and other questions created by the state. The undeveloped test, currently dubbed the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), or MCAS 2.0, should come to fruition by 2017, according to BESE.

Donna Colorio, chairperson for End Common Core MA, told School Reform News a hybrid test such as MCAS 2.0 would do nothing to improve education or address the concerns of parents, teachers, and taxpayers against Common Core.  

“The hybrid test MCAS 2.0 that was voted on by the BESE is a Common Core-aligned test that will be using as much as 90 percent PARCC questions,” said Colorio. “The MCAS 2.0 is just a rebranding of the PARCC test.

“The ballot initiative is more important now knowing that the teachers, parents, [and] citizens are being ignored,” said Colorio. “The End Common Core Massachusetts group has collected 110,000 raw signatures and 80,000 certified signatures since September.”

‘Parents Are Not Fooled’

Sandra Stotsky, a professor at the University of Arkansas who served as senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from 1999 to 2003, where she was in charge of developing or revising all the state’s K–12 standards and teacher licensure tests, says parents must remain vigilant in the fight against Common Core.

“Parents are not fooled,” said Stotsky. “They know that the hybrid test will be PARCC because MCAS has to be based on Common Core’s standards, which are the state’s official standards.”

Stotsky was on the Common Core Validation Committee from 2009 to 2010. She was one of the five members of the committee who refused to sign off on the standards.

The ballot question matters now more than ever, Stotsky says.

“The only ones fooled were the media,” said Stotsky. “Parents know this hybrid scheme is PARCC in disguise. It was clearly a rebranding for political reasons.”

Previous Standards Preferred

Colorio says the inferiority of Common Core standards compared to the previous Massachusetts standards is apparent based on student achievement.

“The direction of this petition is clear,” said Colorio. “Frustrated parents and teachers signed this petition thanking us for working to restore educational excellence into the classroom. We oppose Common Core for Massachusetts because the standards are inferior, parents can’t help their children with their homework, the majority of teachers are opposed to Common Core, and our students’ scores as indicated on the most recent [National Assessment of Educational Progress] scores are dropping [since the implementation of Common Core].”

Massachusetts’ standards were widely considered among the best in the nation before the implementation of Common Core.

“Massachusetts has always been a leader in education, not a follower,” said Colorio. “By adopting the Common Core, we have failed our kids. Common Core is an educational paint-by-numbers; some students find it difficult, while others are bored, killing the creativity on all levels.”  

Heather Kays ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of School Reform News.

Image by woodleywonderworks.

Internet Info:

Eric Levenson, “Massachusetts’s switch on Common Core testing is ‘hugely symbolic,’ educators say,”, November 23, 2015:

Elena Creed, End Common Core MA, August 7, 2015: