- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said Tuesday that Arkansas should keep some elements of Common Core, but make improvements where needed to the controversial education standards and rename them to better reflect the state’s needs.

Griffin, a Republican ex-congressman, said he’ll make the recommendations to a task force he’s heading that’s looking at the future of the state’s involvement in Common Core. Formed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the task force is expected to finalize its recommendations on Thursday.

Griffin said he doesn’t believe the task force should limit itself to simply whether the state should keep or ditch the Common Core standards.

“My view is you should not box yourself in to keeping it or rejecting it,” Griffin told reporters after speaking to the Little Rock Rotary Club. “If there’s a part of it we’ve looked at and think this is great, let’s keep it. If there’s a part of it that needs changing, let’s change it. It’s not an all or nothing deal.”

The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks that have been adopted by a majority of states and describe what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students’ performance.

The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to use them, but Common Core has faced increasing criticism, primarily from conservatives.

Griffin said the changes he’s advocating also mean renaming the standards.

“I believe we should change the standards where they need to be changed and we should completely make them our own,” he said. “You wouldn’t want to call that Common Core because it wouldn’t be what it was.”

Griffin said he also planned to recommend changing state law to ensure more privacy protections for student data.

The 17-member task force has been holding hearings and town hall meetings around the state. During his speech, Griffin faulted some adamant supporters and detractors of Common Core for not being more open minded during debate about the standards.

“Both of the absolute ends of the spectrum have done their arguments a disservice by approaching this discussion with a particular attitude,” Griffin said.

The task force earlier this year recommended that Arkansas replace a standardized test aligned with Common Core. The state Board of Education initially rejected the plan to replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium test with one administered by ACT, but reversed course after Hutchinson ordered education officials to withdraw from PARCC.

Griffin also told reporters that Thursday’s task force meeting, which he initially said would be closed, would be open to the public.


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