CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State superintendent of schools Jim Phares answered to criticism of West Virginia's new education standards Tuesday, dodging assertions they represent a top-down approach to education.
The new standards, West Virginia's version of the federal Common Core state education standards, have been in development since 2008 -- West Virginia's version is called the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.
Adoption began in 2011, and the new system for teaching and evaluating West Virginia's students is slated for full adoption by the 2014-15 school year.
But despite the relatively uncontroversial adoption and development of those standards, in recent months there have been murmurings about the new system in the political sphere.
On Monday, at a meeting of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability during the legislature's interim session this week, Superintendent Phares was confronted by one of those opponents -- Republican state Sen. Donna Boley, who has been outspoken in her criticism of the new standards and is heading an initiative, "West Virginians Against Common Core."
Boley took issue with state Board of Education President Gayle Manchin's characterization of the standards as being "developed" by West Virginia teachers in a public statement last month.
"It's my opinion, respectfully, that these standards were not developed by West Virginia teachers," she said. "They were developed by a consortium and all 45 states that adopted them."
The standards, which aim to standardize benchmarks for students in schools across the state and country in the name of increased efficiency and accountability in education, were developed by groups of educators across the nation with support from education groups. So far, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards -- though many have tweaked them to meet their state's needs.