Get ready for Common Core, data privacy bills

Colorado so far has escaped the level of Common Core standards controversy that’s flared up in other states — but that may change.

Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, confirmed to Chalkbeat Colorado Thursday that she’s planning to introduce a bill that would delay rollout of the Common Core Standards and the PARCC online tests so that both could be studied.

Marble said she’s still looking for a Democratic co-sponsor but expects the bill could be introduced next week. She also said that Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, has given her an exemption from Senate bill deadlines in order to prepare a measure on privacy of student data. She said she has Democratic cosponsors lined up for that bill.

Some states have delayed implementation of the Common Core Standards and withdrawn from the PARCC consortium, which is developing online tests based on the standards. Colorado schools this year are supposed to be implementing state content standards that are based partly on the Common Core, and PARCC tests are scheduled to replace the current TCAP tests in the spring of 2015.

The State Board of Education adopted new state content standards for several academic subjects in 2009 and incorporated the Common Core into the language arts and math standards. The Common Core decision came on a 4-3 board vote.

The standards are generally supported by Colorado’s education establishment – from reform advocates and mainline education groups to the Department of Education to key legislators – and opposition has been muted. But since last summer State Board public comment periods have been dominated by critics of the Common Core, rebutted at times by teachers and representatives of reform groups like Colorado Succeeds.

The tea party group Americans for Prosperity-Colorado on Thursday endorsed Marble’s idea and sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper urging his support for a one-year delay in standards implementation. (See the group’s letter here.)

A proposal to delay standards implementation and new PARCC tests is likely to face stiff opposition in the legislature, given the potential for disruption of Colorado’s intricate timetable for implementing new standards and tests and tying test results to teacher evaluation.

Concerns about privacy of student data erupted in Jefferson County last year because of school district participation in a data project named inBloom, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That controversy played a role in the defeat of pro-administration candidates for school board, and the district since has pulled out of inBloom.

Some of the Jeffco activists who opposed inBloom are involved in drafting of Marble’s bill, which is expected to include provisions for parent consent for data collection, limitations on the kinds of data that can be gathered by schools, limits on distribution of student data and requirements for data destruction after a student leaves school.