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Standards stampede is slowing

Former state Superintendent Tony Bennett liked to boast that Indiana was a leader in education reform. But Indiana has turned out to be a leader in holding up a key plank in his agenda: the Common Core State Standards.

Georgia and Oklahoma are the latest to put the brakes on the national movement. They both decided this week to opt out of the standardized test being created by a consortium of states to assess student performance under the new standards. Indiana lawmakers voted earlier this year to study the Common Core implementation, which was approved in 2010 by the Indiana State Board of Education. The legislation prohibits the state board, mostly appointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels, from handing control of Indiana standards or assessments to outside entities.

Indiana’s grass-roots opposition to the Common Core began building about two years ago and was bolstered by the election of Superintendent Glenda Ritz. While she supported the nationally developed standards, Ritz opposed adoption of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests. Under Bennett, Indiana signed on as a governing state in the PARCC consortium formed to create the tests.

“We will not be participating in consortiums that decide for us the cost of the test, the questions on the test, the cutoffs,” Ritz told State- Impact Indiana last month. “Indiana will be doing that on its own.”

States learned earlier this week that the PARCC assessment will be costly – $29.50 a student for both math and reading.

Indiana would probably save money anyway, however. A recent study from the Brookings Institution found that just six states and the District of Columbia spent more per-pupil on testing than Indiana.