State News

State panel doesn't scrap Common Core as expected

Posted December 18, 2015
Updated December 19, 2015

— A commission that spent more than a year reviewing the Common Core standards for North Carolina's public school students stunned many people Friday when it didn't recommend scrapping the way math is taught.

Forty-four states, including North Carolina, several years ago adopted the academic standards developed by school officers from around the country and the National Governors Association. But implementation of the standards in 2012-13 angered some North Carolina parents, who said they were unclear, repetitive and developmentally inappropriate in several areas.

Critics pressed state lawmakers to repeal Common Core, but the General Assembly instead created the Academic Standards Review Commission last year to find the most appropriate academic standards for North Carolina students. Other states have likewise decided to rewrite the standards in favor of their own academic outlines.

After more than a year of study, the commission on Friday approved general revisions to Common Core in English, urging more curriculum focus and clarity, improved alignment of standards, instruction and testing, and better management of instructional time.

But, key math changes, including adopting Minnesota's K-8 curriculum and returning to the traditional high school sequence of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, failed.

"I think it was the responsibility of this commission to be a little more specific about what we were recommending," commission co-chair Tammy Covil said, adding that she feels the panel fell short of its mandate.

The decisions set off Common Core opponents.

"A lot of what just happened has got me boggled," said Kim Fink, chairwoman of the Common Core committee of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. "I'm incredulous they didn't vote on it – incredulous, disappointed, frustrated, angry."

Meanwhile, some teachers and parents who support Common Core celebrated.

"We do feel like we've won because they didn't vote on the math," said Amanda Garrison, a Burke County teacher. "We need to go back to the board and see what's going on."

The commission's recommendations will go to the State Board of Education, which has final authority to come up with specific Common Core changes.

"There's is work that needs to be done," commission co-chair Andre Peek said. "Those standards need to be revised."

The commission also issued a report that found parents and teachers alike are complaining about the lack of textbooks in schools.

"This deficiency has forced teachers to search for lesson plan material on the Internet, which can be time consuming, and often teachers do not have the resources to share the materials they find," said the panel. "This finding defeats the promise that all North Carolina students have equal opportunity to receive a quality education."

State spending on textbooks has dropped from $68 per student before the recession in 2008-09 to about $15 per student in 2014-15, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. Lawmakers have sought to move away from printed textbooks to digital learning methods. This summer, they nearly doubled spending on textbooks and digital resources by allocating an additional $53 million over two years.


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  • Ann Weaver Dec 22, 2015
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    I am 67 years old and we were taught why we "carried" and it made sense to me and math has never been my strongest suit. We also memorized math tables which has benefitted me all my life. Drawing all those sticks and circles is not nearly as beneficial.

  • Rebecca Dawson Dec 20, 2015
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    In response to the teaching of "how" and "why," I was able to process BOTH during my math instruction, which WASN'T Common Core. Like many parents, I have watched my children struggle and it's frustrating. I permit them to work to their abilities within the Common Core requirements before I step in and show them methods I learned. Math doesn't have gray area. If you consistently get the correct answers with a simple method, it's Common SENSE to use that method. Stop torturing our children!

  • Scott Wilson Dec 20, 2015
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    As usual we get nothing done about the ridiculous way our children are taught. There is nothing good about Common Core any subject. These mealy mouth teacher who are afraid to say it are doing our children a disservice and should find other work! And as usual our government does nothing! Home School!

  • Kelly Birdsall Dec 20, 2015
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    I absolutely 100% agree with you!!!

  • Michael Tattrie Dec 19, 2015
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    I have always understood that common core is preparing kids for higher level math. Which I feel is important in a country that is doing significantly worst in higher level math than other countries. It is confusing, but I wish someone had taught me the "why" when I was younger because it would have made everything above algebra II a lot easier.

  • Thomas Morris Dec 19, 2015
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    As a high school physics teacher of 20+ years, math is of course an area which comes easily to me. When my daughter took Math I (aka Algebra I with some geometry mixed in), I would often have to look over her text book myself before helping her so I could explain problems as she was being taught according to Common Core. What I discovered is this: older generations, myself included, were taught the "how", Common Core also teaches the "why". For instance, we were taught that when a column of digits totaled 10 or greater, we "carried the number" to the next left column. I never remember ever being taught "why" we do this (relates to the carried number's place value), only "how" to do it. I think the reason so many people are opposed to Common Core math is simply because as we were never taught the "why", and it is difficult for us to understand and explain the "why". And in the long run, it will be good for our kids to understand not only the "how" but also the "why".

  • Kevin Weidner Dec 19, 2015
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    How incredibly typical. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, let's rely on a state panel to tell us THEY decided not to vote on the issue of if it's a duck or not. These so called educators are a joke. What a disservice they are doing to both our children as well as our teachers.

  • Jody Stephens Dec 19, 2015
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    As a father of a 9 and 11 year old girls, I can honestly say that common core math is a crock of bulls#*@t!! I have never seen anything more fricken ridiculous in my life. I truly believe this has to be another one of these political, MONEY driven BS schemes the government is pushing on my kids!!! To only later determine it is the expense of MY CHILDREN!!!!

  • Brian Winslow Dec 18, 2015
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    I ignore my child's homework and teach them the proper way to do math. Common core math is beyond ridiculous, and not at all intuitive or useful.

  • Amy Clayton Dec 18, 2015
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    common core math RIDICULOUS!!!!!