INDIANAPOLIS – After hours of testimony over three meetings, legislators studying Common Core standards approved a final report Tuesday that has no findings or recommendations.
A proposal to withdraw from Common Core was not discussed or voted on at the group's final scheduled meeting. Instead, the report is a recitation of those who testified.
"We would like to have a recommendation," said co-Chairman Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis. "A number of us are very committed to it. We need standards that help our students."
He said there wasn't agreement among lawmakers on the committee to pass the withdrawal provision, which also generally would have required Indiana to develop its own college and career-ready standards.
Another draft recommendation is being worked on behind the scenes to garner agreement from seven of the 12 members. If that happens, Behning and co-Chairman Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, will ask leaders to allow them to have another meeting. They need permission because the budget outlined only three meetings.
The committee's work was directed by the General Assembly this year as part of a multiprong effort to determine whether Indiana should stick with Common Core, which it adopted in 2010 and has been implemented in several grades.
Common Core is a set of K-12 standards created by a group of state education officials and later endorsed by President Barack Obama. Forty-five states have signed onto them, though Indiana and others are re-evaluating them.
"I fully support giving Indiana the opportunity to build its own rigorous standards, which better ensures Hoosier students will excel nationally in college and career readiness," said Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury. "I heard from parents, teachers and community members that Indiana must maintain its sovereignty with regard to our education standards, and withdrawing from Common Core allows us to do just that."
The State Board of Education has the final say on the matter. It will hold three public hearings before an anticipated spring vote.
Some members on that panel have already twice voted in support of the standards – in 2010 and early 2013. But there are also several new members on the board.
Tuesday's legislative meeting started with a report from the Indiana Office of Management and Budget on the cost of testing for the standards. It said the state would spend about $20 million more in the next couple years if it opts against using Common Core standards and assessments.
The money would largely be spent drafting Indiana's own standards and related tests that would pass federal muster.
A host of opponents – and a few supporters – also took to the microphone Tuesday.
Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, chief of academics at MSD Warren Township in central Indiana, testified that both the ACT and SAT have strong connections with Common Core.
"We need to make sure students taking college entrance exams are on a level playing field," she said. "If we do not move forward with common core we'll be stepping back."
But educator Karen Renner called Common Core "a rush to mediocrity."
"It is ludicrous to spend this amount of money on a hopelessly flawed plan," she said.