A proposal originally intended to repeal Common Core education standards in South Carolina classrooms is headed to the full Senate after being stripped of that key provision.
The Senate Education Committee advanced a proposal Tuesday that, instead, would:
• Remove South Carolina from a group of states currently developing a test aligned with the standards
• Require the General Assembly's approval to change standards to something not written by the state Department of Education
• Limit schools from sharing student-level data, and
• Remove passing the high-school exit exam as a requirement to graduate.
Removing the state from the testing consortium would address concerns that the new test -- not yet finalized -- is part of the federal government's attempt to control education at the local level. The testing group Smarter Balanced, which South Carolina currently belongs to, was paid for through a federal grant.
But pulling the standards from the classroom likely would disrupt school districts who have been transitioning for about four years to using the standards in all k-12 classrooms.
The decision to let the standards remain in place came about in a compromise backed by state Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, and a leading critic of Common Core.
Common Core opponents want the standards removed, but lawmakers have said that would put about $200 million in federal money in jeopardy. That's because the state would be required to revert back to previous education standards that do not meet federal benchmarks for preparing children for college and careers.
State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, a member of the committee, placed an objection on the bill, which could block the bill from coming up for debate.
Other senators expressed concerns that the proposal's inclusion of legislative changes that may or may not be related to the bill's original intent could stymie the bill altogether.