Flexibility, clarity key to replacing Common Core standards

Posted December 16, 2014
Updated December 17, 2014

— 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.

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 high school English 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 uncertainty 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.

This report first appeared on WUNC/North Carolina Public Radio as part of their education coverage.

Reema Khrais is the 2014 Fletcher Fellow focused on Education Policy Reporting. The Fletcher Fellowship is a partnership between WUNC and UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication funded in part by the Fletcher Foundation.


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  • Terry Watts Dec 17, 2014
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    The most intriguing part of that video is the guy eating his danish...

  • john66 Dec 17, 2014

    To learn why Common Core is not good for our students or our country from an educational view, watch this one hour teacher created video.
    This is probably the best and most thoroughly researched anti-Common Core presentation to date.

  • Jack Jones Dec 17, 2014
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    Common Core is complete and NC had signed onto it. This political move to deconstruct it is not only unnecessary, it's literally unfunded. Must be "Obama's fault" again?

  • tracmister Dec 17, 2014

    The problem with this is that the former standards, two sets of them, in the last twenty years in some subject areas were far more difficult to understand that the common core believe it or not. This is true especially in English where the old standards made little sense to most educators and were vague and ambiguous. Now, the new hands to be are going to return to that confusing format which means new teachers aren't going to have a clue. It's time for the state to get out of direct hands on with Education before our scores go well below those of third world countries.

  • Amy Whaley Dec 17, 2014
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    Amen! We now require degrees to do the jobs our parents and grandparents did with a high school or even less education. Who knew that our ancestors who built this country without a degree were so And don't forget that those whose strengths aren't academic are labeled as "something" disability and medicated. It is time to get back to the basics!

  • Matt Wood Dec 17, 2014
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    Just because people use a lot of jargon, it doesn't mean they intentionally do it to validate themselves. When you're immersed in the field, it's easy to forget that others not in your field won't know all the words you use. It's simple enough for you, but not others. It's a common issue in many industries.

  • xylem01 Dec 17, 2014

    So when your children grow up and apply to colleges/employers they are going to be marked as "They're from NC". That state that doesn't educate their populace.

  • smdrn Dec 17, 2014

    It always seems that those with higher degrees and tons of 'education' feel they have to make things harder than necessary to somehow validate that degree.

    Sometimes, we need to be smart enough to realize the ol' KISS method works the best. (Keep It Simple, Stoopid)