The South Carolina Senate Education Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would keep Common Core Standards in state classrooms, but would review them no later than 2018.
"Basically, the state's taking back over the standards," said Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill. "We're to review them. They may decide to keep the Common Core, some or all of them. They may decide to change some of them. But it'll be just a normal review process."
The committee was working on a bill that originally would have blocked the Common Core Standards completely in the state. Common Core opponents have a long list of complaints about the standards, including their concern that adopting "national" standards takes control away from the state.
But the standards were created by the states as a way to be able to compare how students are doing against a common standard, and to make sure that states are preparing students for college or jobs.
South Carolina adopted the standards in 2010. They were approved by both the state Board of Education and the Education Oversight Committee.
Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, says the fact that the standards are already being used in South Carolina classrooms would make it difficult to get rid of them right away. "School districts around the state, Greenville included, have spent enormous amounts of dollars in training their teachers to teach the math and ELA (English Language Arts) in the classroom," he told the committee.
The committee passed an amendment to the original bill which, instead of banning the standards, would review them, protect students' personal information, delay any new testing for two years, and eliminate the high school exit exam from school district ratings. The bill would also remove the state from the Smarter Balance testing consortium.
Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, says rejecting the Common Core Standards would cost the state. "If we pull out of Common Core, we're now not in compliance with federal law, potentially jeopardizing hundreds of millions of federal dollars that comes to our school system." The state would lose about $200 million in federal money.
The bill now goes to the full state Senate, which could make changes.