Outlook dims for common core adoption by August

Further doubt was cast Tuesday on California's ability to meet a mandated August 2 deadline for adopting new common core academic standards in math and English language arts developed through a national consortium.

The final common core documents from the National Governors Association are now not expected to be released until late May or June - and there's some who say that date might slip further.

Even in the best case scenario, that would leave the state commission charged with integrating California's existing standards with the national core virtually no time to complete a complex process before meeting their July 15 deadline to provide recommendations to the California State Board of Education.

The state board is required to act on the recommendations by August 2, according to legislation approved in January as part of the state's unsuccessful Race to the Top application.

A representative of the governor's Department of Finance also told members of an Assembly budget subcommittee Tuesday that no funding has been set aside for the curriculum update and that there are plans currently to earmark the money needed for the work, which could run into the millions of dollars according to some estimates.

And finally, there still have been no members appointed to the 21-member Academic Content Standards Commission by either Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or the two leaders of the California Legislature.

It doesn't seem like we are trying to fuel the engine," Assemblywoman Julia Brownley observed Tuesday after wading through the litany of challenges facing the expected content standards revision.

Born out of the state's efforts to impress the U.S. Department of Education in the $4 billion Race to the Top competition, the content standards revision is part of the Obama administration's campaign to have common academic goals for what students need to learn in each state.

The apparent indecision over moving ahead on adopting the common standards is tied to the state's decision on whether to compete in the second phase of Race to the Top - a move the governor has reportedly agreed to do (see today's related story in Cabinet Report). If the state decides not to compete, there would seem to be little incentive to rewrite California's academic standards which are generally regarded among the most rigorous in the nation.

The deadline for notifying federal officials on the second phase of Race to the Top is May 4 and many insiders are already saying the governor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell have decided not to participate - at least not now.

The Obama administration has included $1.35 billion in next year's budget plan for a phase three of the Race to the Top.

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