Give Common Core more time, district officials say

Apr. 30, 2014 @ 08:05 PM

Vance County Schools administrators say Common Core State Standards have not had time to flourish.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with these people,” district Superintendent Ronald Gregory said. “To me, it’s like we never finish anything we start. Our kids are not going to be competing with North Carolina; our kids are going to be competing on a global stage.”

A legislative study committee of the General Assembly proposed legislation last Thursday that would get rid of the nationwide standards altogether and create a 17-person review commission to come up with something new by the end of 2015 to present for the 2016 session.

The proposed bill still needs to pass the state House and Senate when they convene for the short session later this month. If approved, it would need to be signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, who has voiced his support for Common Core in the past.

Common Core State Standards were create to standardize what students in kindergarten through high school learn in English and math; they’ve been adopted by some 44 states and the District of Columbia. They were adopted in North Carolina in 2010, though it took time before they were implemented. They were meant to ensure students nationwide learned the basics in a rigorous fashion and to allow districts and states to be able to accurately compare their students to those across the country.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Trixie Brooks said the district has just started to see results with the curriculum.

“Students and teachers are finally adapting to the transition,” she said. “People making these decisions should ask about their effectiveness first.”

Brooks said she is worried about what impact repealing the standards will have on teachers.

“People are not factory built,” Brooks said. “They have had so many curveballs thrown at them already. That is going to be crazy in the classroom.”

The district has put resources toward training teachers to apply the standards.

“We had been training our teachers two years prior to the standards being required,” Brooks said. “We have spent some of our Race to the Top money to train people through the summer. We have put a lot of time, energy and resources into the standards. It is not the time to criticize the standards.”

According to Brooks, recent budget cuts, threats to teacher tenure and a lack of raises for teachers has already put strain on educators; this would be amplified if they have to adapt again.

Changing the standards again brings new assessments, and new assessments mean another revamp of the teaching process.

“We should not be arguing about a set of standards,” she said. “We should be training our teachers to effectively implement them. We better start treating our teachers right.”

Brooks argued teachers are school systems’ greatest assets and that Common Core should be given time to work before any discussion of changing or removing the standards takes place.

“Curriculum and standards don’t teach children,” she said. “Teachers teach children. Standards don’t become effective until teacher implementation of the standards. Are the standards perfect? No. Have I ever seen a set of standards perfect? No. Are standards the biggest factor in our students’ success? No.”

Brooks said district staff will make their voices heard in hopes that state representatives will choose to take another look at Common Core instead of repealing it.

“We will let legislators hear from us, in terms of figuring out if this standards meet our students need,” Brooks said.

Since the news of the General Assembly committee’s proposal, others have come forward with dissenting opinions of Common Core.

Indiana’s State Board of Education voted to abandon the national standards Monday, making it the first to formally do so, even though they were one of the first to give it a try, according to reports from The Associated Press.

Even so, Gregory said North Carolina needs more time.

“We have only been two years into this process,” he said. “Let’s see how it turns out instead of getting rid of it.”

 

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.