Common Core commission: Standards could be simpler

Posted October 21, 2014 10:38 a.m. EDT

A state commission in charge of reworking the Common Core academic standards has begun reviewing them.

Members spent hours on Monday learning what's expected under Common Core in terms of English and language arts. Some of those goals include when students should know how to explain their ideas or comprehend certain texts.

The 11 members were politically appointed to review and possibly make changes to the academic standards after lawmakers heard complaints from parents and teachers that they do not progress in a natural or developmentally appropriate way.

“Our kids are not common,” said Jeannie Metcalf, co-chair of the commission and long-time Forsyth County school board member. “They are different and they may not be able to achieve some of these higher level expectations."

Metcalf and others explained that some of the standards may need to be rearranged without lowering the bar for students.

“I don’t think any of us want to lower the bar,” said Jeffrey Isenhour, a principal from Catawba County. “There needs to be some alignment, things have to make sense in terms of how students learn.”

Other members shared concerns about the readability of the standards, arguing that they were written in a convoluted way.

“I do not see how this material is clear to the average parent. My suspicion is that they need to be simplified somehow,” said John Schieck, a retired professor from Wake County.

North Carolina was one of the first states to sign onto Common Core a few years ago.

The standards were developed by organizations made up of governors and school officials. The two groups insist that the development of the standards was state-led and included insight from educators and experts.

Commission members have until next year to consult experts and other stakeholders before making any final recommendations to the State Board of Education. At next month’s meeting, the group will review the math standards.

Officials say any changes to the standards would not go into effect until 2016, at the earliest.

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.