- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota should be barred from paying membership fees and opt out of an organization that’s writing tests for the federally backed Common Core standards, a St. Louis lawyer argued in Bismarck court Monday.

John Sauer, who has argued a similar case in Missouri, asked South Central District Judge David Reich to issue a preliminary injunction to block North Dakota from giving taxpayers’ money to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Tioga Republican Rep. Bob Skarphol and three others sued Gov. Jack Dalrymple, state Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and other state officials last month alleging North Dakota entered into an illegal agreement when it joined the multistate consortium.

Opponents allege the consortium is an illegal interstate compact not approved by Congress.

The North Dakota lawsuit is similar to one that succeeded in Missouri in February but is on appeal.

Doug Bahr, an assistant attorney general representing North Dakota, told the judge the consortium is legal and the state wants the lawsuit thrown out.

Reich told the attorneys he needs more time to review the case and would rule on it “as soon as I can.”

North Dakota adopted Common Core standards in 2011 and began to fully implement them during the last school year. North Dakota is one of 18 states participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which developed English and math tests intended to align with Common Core standards.

Common Core standards have been adopted in most of the states and replace standards that varied state-to-state. North Dakota’s membership fees for the most recent school year are about $554,000, state data show.

Bahr told the judge that the new state English and math standards that outline what students should know and when were the result of much involvement from the public and educators in North Dakota.

He said the state would continue using the standards even if it were forced out of the consortium.

“It’s not about Common Core, and the results of this case will in no way impact whether the state uses Common Core,” Bahr said. “The lawsuit is not about whether Common Core will continue.”

Sauer said the consortium influences North Dakota sticking with the federal education standards.

“As long as the state is bound by consortium assessments, the curriculum will follow,” he said.

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