North Dakota House Rejects Bill to Require Homegrown Standards

Published March 14, 2017

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of national standards dictating what students should know at the end of each grade level. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium creates tests aligned with CCSS for states to use. In 2015, the North Dakota legislature rejected a bill to exit the consortium.

House Bill 1432, introduced by state Rep. Ben Koppelman (R-West Fargo) in January 2017, would have prohibited North Dakota from participating “at any level, in any national or multistate consortium course content standards from any source” and using “any assessments aligned with any national or multistate consortium course content standards from any source that cedes to the national or multistate consortium control of North Dakota educational course content standards in any manner.”

HB 1432 would also have prohibited the state superintendent of public instruction from implementing new state standards “without statutory authority by the legislative assembly” and mandated the state adopt the standards used by Massachusetts during the 2008–09 school year until North Dakota’s legislature approves a new set of standards.

HB 1432 failed to get enough House votes in February.

‘There Is Hope’

Koppelman says he’s optimistic the legislature and governor can gradually make small changes.

“I believe that there is hope,” Koppelman said. “One of the things that I’m hopeful for is that we’ll have some opportunity to work with the governor’s office to try to initiate some change. I don’t believe that that change is going to be in the way of wholesale changes. But each step we can we can make that gets us away from federal control or involvement from a third-party initiative, I think, is going to be positive to our state.”

Threatened Funding Cuts

Leah Peterson, a member of Stop Common Core North Dakota, says there are several reasons HB 1432 failed.

“The Department of Public Instruction put a hefty fiscal note on the bill, assuming that North Dakota would lose all federal funding if we cut ties and started paving a new education path that is best for the state,” Peterson said. “Second, although there was no time given for amendments, the bill may have tried to do too much at once. And lastly, most legislators did not want to be informed. They did not respond to their constituents on the matter.”

Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.