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State education leaders have long asserted that misinformation is responsible for much of the opposition to the standards in Utah. For example, they say there’s confusion over the difference between standards and curriculum. Standards outline the concepts that should be taught, while curriculum describes how those concepts are taught — and curriculum remains up to local schools and teachers.
Also, reassurances that Utah is in control of its standards have come over the years from the U.S. secretary of education, and the head of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped lead the writing of the standards. Former State Superintendent Larry Shumway also formally asserted Utah’s control over schools to the federal government.
But Herbert said Thursday that those efforts fell short of solving the debate.
"Whatever has been done in the past has not resolved the dispute," Herbert said. "There’s too much animus out there with the groups on all sides of the issue and it’s just time for us to kind of push the pause button and say, ‘Let’s reevaluate, let’s ascertain that we have Utah standards.’"
He acknowledged, however, that it’s still unlikely everyone will be satisfied.
"There’s always somebody who’s not going to be happy with what the outcome’s going to be," Herbert said. "We won’t please the extremes on either end of this discussion but the other 85 percent of us, the reasonable people of the world, will probably feel good about the outcome."
He said the attorney general’s office will look at the standards’ adoption through the lens of a bill passed in 2012, SB287, which allows Utah to exit any agreement that "cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards to any other entity."
Herbert also on Thursday addressed issues with the state’s new school SAGE testing and student data. Some educators have expressed concern with the testing, saying they had to start it well before the end of the year because of limited school computers.
Herbert said he and others will work to fix that issue, and he’s asking legislative leadership to work with his office and the state school board to address concerns over whether the testing puts the privacy of student data at risk.
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