Herbert calls for end of Common Core, SAGE testing in high school

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

(KUTV) Gov. Gary Herbert wants the Utah Board of Education to move past Common Core standards and get rid of mandatory SAGE testing for high school students.

Herbert, who has been criticized by some conservatives for his stances on education, made those requests to the state board in a letter Wednesday.

"I am asking the State Board of Education to consider implementing uniquely Utah standards," Herbert wrote, "moving beyond the Common Core to a system that is tailored specifically to the needs of our state."

Common Core standards have been adopted voluntarily by school boards across the country. Adopted in Utah in 2010, they are designed to make sure students across the country are working toward similar expectations in mathematics and English language arts.

Critics argue the standards are an example of federal government overreach.

"We affirm and agree with maintaining high-quality standards and in keeping instruction and curriculum at local levels, as has historically been the case," said Utah State Board of Education Chair David Crandall in a statement. "As a Board, we have worked to maintain Utah's autonomy from the federal government and will continue to do so."

But Herbert's Republican primary election opponent, Jonathan Johnson, criticized the governor in a series of tweets Wednesday evening.

"After two terms as Gov and my calling for the removal of Common Core, he is finally getting it," Johnson tweeted, adding the hashtag #toolittletoolate.

Herbert's campaign spokesman, Marty Carpenter, defended the governor's track record on education.

"Gov. Herbert has a long history of working to ensure Utah is in control of our education standards and curriculum and that we have the right standards to prepare our students to compete in the global marketplace," Carpenter said.

In the letter to the state board, Herbert also called for the end of mandatory SAGE testing for all high school students and a review of the test's effectiveness for other grade levels.

"I believe that our teachers need more freedom to be creative in the classroom in order to maximize the time students spend learning, not the time they spend taking tests," Herbert wrote.

The governor said he would call the Utah Legislature into special session to consider that change if the Board of Education endorses the idea.

"We appreciate the governor's willingness to consider eliminating SAGE from high school and look forward to working with legislators during a special session," Crandall said in his statement.

Johnson, Herbert's opponent, has also called for an end to those tests.

"This is why fresh eyes on long standing issues benefit the state and career politicians keep us complacent," Johnson tweeted.

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