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Common Core could face end in NC

A law signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on July 22 will create a commission to examine English and math test standards in the state’s public schools and recommend potential changes.

While 43 states have adopted the standards, North Carolina is one of a number of states, including Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, that have tried to put the brakes on Common Core, which was launched in 2009.

Jeff Nash, spokesman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said the district isn’t pleased with the move away from Common Core.

“Our school district has dedicated a significant portion of our limited resources — money, time and energy — into ensuring our teachers can be successful with the Common Core,” Nash said. “We believe we are making great progress, and we are disappointed in the General Assembly’s decision to move away from it.”

After adopting the Common Core, North Carolina faced a drop in passing rates on state end-of-year tests due to the higher standards, said Matt Ellinwood, education policy analyst at the N.C. Justice Center. He said this was expected and that, over time, teachers adjust to the new standards.

But the proportion of students earning proficient scores in N.C. public schools increased from 44.7 percent to 58.6 percent from 2012-13 to 2013-14, according to a Sept. 4 statement from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

An adjustment in North Carolina’s standardized tests was the primary reason for a higher passing rate, Ellinwood said. In 2013, the scoring scale was changed, he said, meaning that test grades of one or two is failing, and grades of three, four or five are now passing.

Common Core is well designed to prepare K-12 students for life after high school, Ellinwood said.

“North Carolina needs to have standards that are meaningful and linked to what we need our students to know and be successful when they graduate and go to college and get jobs and perform their civic duties,” he said.

Sen. Josh Stein, D-N.C., who opposed the review of Common Core, said the national standards are responsible for the expectations of North Carolina students being the highest that they have ever been.

“The commission is going to look at (the standards), and it’s likely to be packed with people who are hostile to higher standards,” he said.

The review commission will be composed of nine political appointees and two appointments by the state Board of Education.

Nash said the district is concerned that the committee is separate from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. He said CHCCS would rather see decisions on student curriculum made by education experts.

Stein said that many teachers support the Common Core because it allows them to teach at a deeper level.

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“I don’t think we need to be afraid of asking more of our children,” he said.