Members of a state commission have identified their top priorities for revising the Common Core academic standards used for North Carolina’s public school students.
At a meeting Monday, they said they want to focus on increasing flexibility for teachers and school districts, rewriting the standards so they’re clear and understandable, and identifying standards that are developmentally inappropriate.
The Academic Standards Review Commission is charged with conducting research and recommending changes to the Math and English language arts standards by the end of 2015. For the last couple of months, members have spent time reviewing and understanding the standards.
“Now, it’s time to say ‘Okay, what did we think about what was there?’ said Andre Peek, an IBM sales executive and the commission's co-chair.
Members like Tammy Covil expressed concerns about how the standards are written, citing feedback from teachers that they are unnecessarily intricate and difficult to understand.
“We’ve confused wordiness for rigor,” said Covil, a New Hanover County school board member.
Commission members talked about the need to limit educational jargon so parents and non-educators can better understand the academic standards.
Other members pointed out that any changes must maintain flexibility for teachers and school districts.
“Because flexibility is what allows your child’s teacher to meet their needs in light of any deficiencies they may have,” said Katie Lemons, a Stokes County English high school teacher.
Lemons also brought up the issue of whether the standards are ‘developmentally appropriate,’ a recurring theme in the Common Core debate.
Many critics of the standards have argued that the goals do not reflect the development of children and how they learn.
“I think there’s enough heat around this particular area that I would love to see us generate a set of examples of what we think is developmentally inappropriate and where, specifically,” said the commission’s co-chair, Andre Peek.
'Budget Problems Resolved'
Peek also addressed budget concerns that members raised at last month’s meeting. Commission members have been urging lawmakers to find the money needed to review and make changes to the standards.
In the legislation that created the commission, lawmakers said the group should have money to hire staff and conduct research, but did not make clear how much money the commission will receive and where it will come from.
The original version of the bill called for a budget of $250,000, which was taken out during final negotiations between the Senate and House.
Peek said that he and his co-chair recently met with lawmakers, who assured them that the commission will be properly funded with a tentative budget of $250,000.
While lawmakers cannot authorize the money until they reconvene in January, Peek said the commission will receive money from the Department of Administration, which will be reimbursed.
“The uncertainty had been removed and we can proceed forward,” Peek said.
He said the money will be to reimburse expenses for members, hire staff, invite content experts and conduct research.