The North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission met today in Raleigh, North Carolina, to discuss the Common Core Mathematics Standards.
The Academic Standards Review Commission was established by General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013 Session Law 2014-78 Senate Bill 812.
Section 2(c) of the Bill states:
SECTION 2.(c) The Commission shall:
(1) Conduct a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education under G.S. 115C-12(9c) and propose modifications to ensure that those standards meet all of the following criteria:
- Increase students’ level of academic achievement.
- Meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities.
- Are age-level and developmentally appropriate.
- Are understandable to parents and teachers.
- Are among the highest standards in the nation.
(2) As soon as practicable upon convening, and at any time prior to termination, recommend changes and modifications to these academic standards to the State Board of Education.
(3) Recommend to the State Board of Education assessments aligned to proposed changes and modifications that would also reduce the number of high-stakes assessments administered to public schools.
(4) Consider the impact on educators, including the need for professional development, when making any of the recommendations required in this section.
The Commission shall assemble content experts to assist it in evaluating the rigor ofacademic standards. The Commission shall also involve interested stakeholders in this processand otherwise ensure that the process is transparent.
Today was the second meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission I have attended. The last one (last month) dealt with the Common Core Language Arts Standards. Today’s meeting dealt with the Common Core Mathematics Standards. The presentations at both meetings were done by people from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI)(a department that is strongly supporting Common Core). There has been (so far) no discussion of any alternate standards. It was also mentioned in today’s meeting that the Commission does not have any money allocated to it, and thus cannot call any experts who might refute the value of Common Core.
I have never been so disappointed in government. When the North Carolina legislature passed the legislation that created the Commission, they passed it in response to complaints by parents about the Common Core standards (and the curriculum that goes with them). The parents were not looking for a worthless commission that would do nothing but hear from supporters of Common Core, put a rubber stamp on it, and go home. (I do need to say at this point that there were some members of the Commission that were asking genuine questions and were trying to look past the one-sided promotional presentation they were subjected to.)
All in all, the meeting of the Commission was a well-orchestrated and controlled dog and pony show that accomplished nothing except to show the extent to which the North Carolina DPI supports Common Core. I would strongly suggest to the Commission (and to the DPI) that if you truly want to improve the education level of North Carolina students, you study the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) program instituted in Massachusetts during the early 1990’s. Massachusetts has more than ten years of test scores that show that MCAS works. Common Core has no reliable test scores that show that has actually accomplished anything. Normally, I would never suggest North Carolina follow the example of Massachusetts, but this one time Massachusetts got it right, and they should be listened to. I would also like to note that many of the local school boards in Massachusetts have opted out of Common Core in favor of MCAS.