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Alexander's education bill allows states to drop Common Core

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A bill the U.S. Senate Education Committee could vote on as early as Thursday allows states to drop Common Core and could mean fewer standardized tests for students, according to its author.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Maryville, teamed up ranking member Patty Murray, D-Washington, to work on a bill to replace the federal No Child Left Behind law. It's called the Every Child Achieves Act and aims to what Alexander calls "fix" the Bush-era education law for K-12 public schools, which expired in 2007.

"So much new federal control of local schools has produced a backlash against 'Common Core' academic standards, teacher evaluation, and against tests in general," Alexander said in opening remarks to the education committee Tuesday.

Sarah Maness, a Union County schoolteacher of 37 years, said she's become disenchanted by the number of tests and how the results are used.

"Students are tested a tremendous amount. We have become professional testers instead of teachers," Maness said, "To me, test scores are not the No. 1 important thing. Because you don't know what a child could have gone through the night before or the morning they take the test."

Alexander said it's a complaint he hears often.

"Governors and chief state school officers complain about federal overreach. Infuriated teachers say that the U.S. Department of Education has become a 'National Human Resources Department or, in effect, a national school board,'" Alexander told fellow committee members.

Alexander said his bill will actually help reduce the number of tests. The law aims to do that by making states, instead of the federal government, responsible for what happens with the test scores.

"The problem is the federal government's accountability system for what to do about the results of these tests. This federal accountability system has greatly contributed to the exploding number of state and local tests," Alexander said.

"...State accountability systems must meet limited federal guidelines, including challenging academic standards for all students, but the federal government is prohibited from determining or approving state standards or even incentivizing states into adopting specific standards."

That means states get to decide if they want to adopt Common Core. He said, in turn, this would help reduce the number of tests. 

Read more at WBIR's website.

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