House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a bill that could replace parts – if not all – of the Common Core academic standards in North Carolina.
The two chambers drafted separate bills earlier this session that would create commissions to review the English and Math standards. The House bill recommended flat out replacing the standards, while the Senate legislation left open the possibility that parts of Common Core could continue.
Republican legislators say the compromise bill would get rid of the essence of Common Core, but allow state education officials to pull pieces of the standards if they deem them rigorous enough.
“But it will do away with Common Core. The state can’t keep it in its entirety,” asserted Republican Representative Bryan Holloway, a former teacher who helped draft the compromise bill.
The Common Core standards were initially adopted by 45 states and introduced to North Carolina classrooms in 2012. They’re meant to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one set of clear, consistent goals for what students should learn in Math and English at every grade level.
Opponents of the standards argue that they are not developmentally appropriate for children, were implemented too quickly and take control away from the state.
But supporters of the standards, like the North Carolina Association of Educators, say that getting rid of the standards now would only create classroom chaos.
Anca Stefan, an English middle school teacher in Durham, says it’ll be difficult to track the gains students make if the state keeps changing the measuring stick.
“I don’t think we’ve had enough time to figure out how effective it is, or if it is effective, or if we’re throwing out the baby with the bath water,” she says. “We’ve invested in the training and the materials greatly really to the detriment of other areas of education in North Carolina that could have been funded instead."
Stefan and other supporters of Common Core argue that the standards are more rigorous than what the state had before, and that they encourage critical thinking.
Holloway says he’s confident that both full chambers will approve the bill before it heads to Governor Pat McCrory.
"We want to be rigorous," said Holloway. "Folks have this misconception that Common Core is the greatest of all standards. We want higher standards."