LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan for addressing the controversy over the Common Core State Standards and tests aligned with the standards hit a snag last week that gave an indication of how thorny the issue is.

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan for addressing the controversy over the Common Core State Standards and tests aligned with the standards hit a snag last week that gave an indication of how thorny the issue is.


During his campaign for governor, Hutchinson declined to take a position on Common Core, saying that if elected he would create a task force to study the standards and make recommendations on whether to keep them, change them or drop them. He created that task force earlier this year, but its first recommendation was soundly rejected Thursday by the state Board of Education.


The 16-member Governor’s Council on Common Core Review, chaired by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, has not yet made a recommendation on Common Core, but it recommended last week that the state end its contract with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers to provide standardized tests, which the state is required by federal law to administer.


The PARCC tests, developed by a consortium of states and administered at Arkansas schools for the first time this spring, have drawn complaints over the length of time required to take them and other issues, although they have supporters as well. The task force recommended that the state pursue a contract with ACT for its ACT Aspire testing system to replace the PARCC tests.


Griffin has said that although both the PARCC and the ACT Aspire tests are aligned with Common Core, the ACT Aspire tests are not aligned to the standards "at the granular level."


Hutchinson accepted the task force’s recommendation and asked the Board of Education not to renew the contract with PARCC, which expires June 30. But on Thursday the board voted 7-1 to renew the contract, with members saying they did not have enough information and wanted time to explore more options.


The vote by the board members, all of whom were appointed by former Democratic Gov. Bike Beebe, was a stinging rebuff to a Republican governor who has boasted that he got everything he wanted in this year’s regular and special legislative sessions.


The vote does not mean the contract will be renewed, however. Renewal requires legislative approval, and that appears unlikely.


The contract normally be considered by the Review Subcommittee of the Legislative Council and then by the full council, but the subcommittee and the council have no plans to meet again until August.


The contract could receive an emergency review, but for that to happen, Department of Finance and Administration Director Larry Walther would have to determine that an emergency exists, and the co-chairmen of the Review Subcommittee and the Legislative Council would all have to approve the contract.


The Legislative Council’s co-chairs are Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, and Rep. David Branscum, R-Marshall, and the subcommittee’s co-chairmen are Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, D-Warren. Sample, Branscum and Hester all said Friday they are inclined to support the governor on PARCC; Wardlaw did not immediately return a phone message.


Hester was asked if he would describe the situation as an impasse.


"I wouldn’t say that we’re ever at impasse in government," he said. "Where we are is at a strength-in-negotiating position. It will be interesting to see what the governor’s office and the state Board of Education work out in the next week."


Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, said one possible way to resolve the issue would be for the Legislature to meet in special session and pass legislation requiring a switch from PARCC to ACT.


"You hope that it does not have to go to that particular length, but there is no widespread support for the PARCC test in the Legislature," he said. "I think the Legislature spoke loud and clear during the session that we need to move away from the PARCC test, so it’s something that I think needs to be on the table in order to get the board to approve the recommendation that the governor and the lieutenant governor have made."


During this year’s regular session, the House voted 86-1 to approve a bill by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, that would have ended PARCC testing after the 2014-15 school year, but the Senate amended the bill, which became law, to require only that the state not renew its contract with PARCC for more than one year at a time.


State Education Commissioner Johnny Key said Friday he was optimistic about the chances of resolving the disagreement through discussions.


"I do not anticipate a request for emergency review of the contract," he said. "I continue to be in discussions with the governor’s office, and I fully expect that we will work through this issue and have a viable assessment option for the 2015-16 school year."