States and local school districts can develop their own non-Common Core standards by following the steps below:
1. Vote for Chair of Steering Committee: The Steering Committee in charge of the project (i.e., in charge of the two standards development committees) votes for its own Chair or Co-Chairs (unless spelled out in law). This might be the Chair of the State or Local Board of Education (so no vote is necessary) or a separate committee set up by the State or Local Board of Education or the State Legislature.
2. Appointment of Document Guardians: The Steering Committee must appoint two people to be in charge of the standards documents while they are developed and finalized: one who understands and can use mathematical symbols to be in charge of the mathematics standards document (on a computer), and the other to be in charge of the English standards document (on a computer). These individuals’ time may be donated by the state department of education, the state superintendents organization, the local school district (for a district-based set of standards), or the state’s career-technology organization. The document guardians report only to the chair(s) of the Steering Committee; no one else can authorize wording for the standards or material for the documents. Membership on this Steering Committee may have been spelled out in the state’s law requiring alternative standards to Common Core’s. Whatever the composition of the Steering Committee, it proceeds as follows.
3. Selection of Chair for each Standards Development Committee: The Steering Committee selects the chair(s) for a Mathematics Standards Development Committee and the chair(s) for an English Standards Development Committee.
4. Qualifications and Recommendations for Chairs: The chair of each Standards Development Committee must come from the undergraduate teaching faculty in the arts and sciences (not in an education school) at a state’s own higher education institutions. For mathematics, the chair must be a faculty member in the science, mathematics, or engineering department; for English, the chair must be a faculty member in the English literature/language department (not in an education school). The presidents of the state’s four-year or more higher education institutions (private or public) must recommend people willing to serve as chair. The Steering Committee selects by majority vote the chair(s) of each of the two Standards Development Committees.
5. Structure of Standards Development Committees and Number of Members: Each Standards Development Committee is broken down into three educational levels (elementary, or grades preK-5; middle school, or grades 6-8; and high school, or grades 9-12.) There should be no more than five members on each sub-committee (i.e., 15 in all), supplemented by one school librarian for the English committee, selected by the state’s library association, and one engineer for the mathematics committee, selected by one of the state’s engineering organizations.
6. Requirements for Membership on Sub-Committees: A nomination can be sent by every district superintendent in the state to the state superintendents organization (or by every principal of each school in a local district to the local school board). A one-page nomination form should be used for each nomination for each of the three sub-committees for the two standards development committees (i.e., 6 in all). All that is required on the nomination form is the teacher’s name, current teaching assignment (grade and subject), at least ten years of documented teaching experience, and the nominee’s undergraduate and graduate courses in English, composition, rhetoric, or mathematics, science, or engineering, with enough hours or credits amounting to at least a minor in English or mathematics. Priority can be given to English or mathematics majors.
7. Selection of Teacher Nominations: The state superintendents organization selects 15 teachers for each of the three sub-committees from whatever number of nominations local superintendents submit. There will be 45 teachers in all for the Steering Committee and Standards Development Committee chair(s) to choose from for each of the two Standards Development Committees.
8. Selection of Committee Members: Committee chairs and the Steering Committee together select the five members for the elementary and middle school sub-committees. For the high school English sub-committee, there should be an English teacher at each of the four grades, and for the high school mathematics sub-committee, there should be a current mathematics teacher for algebra I, geometry, algebra II, and pre-calculus or trigonometry. The fifth person for the high school sub-committee should be a member of the teaching faculty in that subject area in higher education. The committee chair(s) select(s) that faculty member.
9. Foundational Document for Beginning Revision Process: Each Standards Development Committee begins with a complete set of preK-12 standards in its subject area. These standards may be the state’s own pre-2009 standards if desired. Other options, for mathematics, could be the California, Indiana 2006, Massachusetts 2000, or Minnesota standards. In English, the California, Indiana 2006, Massachusetts 2001 or 2013 (a compressed, revised version of 2001), or the version used in Alabama in 2005 may also be used. Each committee chooses its foundational document at its first full meeting.
10. Feedback from Teachers: Each of the three Standards Development Sub-Committees obtains comments on appropriateness and wording, standard by standard, grade by grade, from relevant teachers among the 30 not selected by the superintendent’s organization for the three Standards Development Sub-Committees. These comments are recorded by the document guardian as suggestions for each standard in the foundational document–for later review by the college and high school teachers in that subject.
11. Public Comment: Once the entire foundational document has been reviewed by the groups of teachers providing feedback, the high school teachers and higher education faculty member and chair of each Standards Development Committee revise the document based on teacher feedback for a public comment draft to be sent out for a two-to-three-week period.
12. Availability of all Public Comment: The public comment drafts are to circulate to all interested organizations, individuals, and teachers in the state or district, with a response form available for electronic return. All returned comments are to be compiled by the document guardians and made publicly available. Document guardians also review the comments for useful suggestions, rewording of standards, additions, deletions, etc. and submit these to the Standards Development Committee chairs.
13. Final revision of standards documents: The chairs of the Standards Development Committees and all committee members meet to discuss and decide what, if anything, to incorporate or change in the standards. These are open and taped meetings–open to parents, other teachers, and the public at large.
14. Other Sets of Secondary Standards and Pathways: The Steering Committee and both Standards Development Committees decide at a public meeting whether to provide other sets of secondary standards for accelerated pathways (grades 6-12) for math/science, performing arts, humanities/foreign languages, and vocational technical careers. Each pathway may have separate exit tests, different designated performance levels, and acknowledgment on high school diploma.
15. Public Comment on final version: The two sets of standards go out for public comment to the state Chamber of Commerce, state business and industry, state engineering organizations, other professional organizations such as early childhood, special education, English language learners, and school counselors, and higher education undergraduate teaching faculty in science, mathematics, and engineering, and in English literature/language. All returned comments must contain signatures of reviewers and be available on an accessible website.
16. External Review: Individual scholars or researchers are to be asked to provide independent review of the final standards in mathematics and English. These reviewers should be from another state or country and be recognized as academic authorities in their disciplines (i.e., they are the recipients of awards and/or authors of known publications). Recommendations for scholars or researchers are to come from higher education faculty in the arts and sciences, not schools of education. External reviews are to be presented to the state legislature at a public hearing. If the state legislature wants small changes, they can be made before a vote by the state legislature to accept the standards.
17. State legislature votes to disallow all further credit for Common Core-based professional development. This could take the form, for example, of a salary deduction for participation in Common Core-based professional development.
18. Test Development Committees set up, and in similar ways, after vote by legislature on final version of standards.
Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is professor emerita, University of Arkansas.