Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting

Due to the threat of inclement weather, the Academic Standards Review Commission met via conference call on January 16th.

The meeting was called to order by Co-Chair Andree Peek and the first business of the day was to elect a new vice chair. Jennie Metcalf is resigning from that position, but will remain on the committee.   Dr. Jeffrey Isenhour, and Tammy Covil were nominated and by a voice vote, Tammy Covil was elected co-chair.

The current funding of the commission is being met by the Department of Administration, and will continue to do so until the commission is funded. At that time, the Administration Department will be reimbursed. The commission meetings will continue to meet in the Education building through May, as the ability for live streaming of the meetings is available at that venue.

Last month it was agreed to explore the possibility of staffing two positions to assist the commission. The process is under way with Human Resources. When they have identified candidates they will be presented to the commission for consideration.

There were three timelines presented last month with the work groups individual time lines for the commission. The work groups are simplification, flexibility and age appropriateness. A consolidated timeline was presented that includes drafting new standards, hearing from content experts, working on specific recommendations for standards, get feedback from stakeholders including teachers, administrators, business, and parents. Launch an online feedback mechanism, maybe a survey, and so on. During this time (now through June) feedback online and focus groups are encouraged across the state to allow opinions on pros, cons and suggested changes to the current standards.

Olivia Oxendine is a member of the State Board of Education Task Force on Summative Assessment as well as the Academic Standards Review Commission. Dr. Oxendine presented a power point presentation on North Carolina Assessment History. This is an important topic to NC because part of the General Assembly’s charge to this commission is to recommend what type/kind of assessment NC should use. Historically in NC, early assessments focused on school accountability, were not administered at every grade, were not 100 % aligned to content standards, were not high stakes for students and the emphasis was on the entire program as an evaluation.   The state shifted to tests aligned to content standards in the early 1990’s with the development of End-of-grade and end-of-course tests that were administered in grades 3 to 8, and given the last 3 weeks of the school year. These assessments had great emphasis on individual schools and became what is called High stakes testing for the students. The assessments in NC are required by State Statute, Federal Law, and State Board of Education Policy. The State Board adopts the academic content standards, assessments are designed to measure content standards. The State Board also sets policy for the development of the assessments used for state and federal purposes. Briefly, Federal involvement in NC assessments include No Child Left Behind in 2001, Race to the Top on 2010, and the ESEA flexibility waiver in 2011 (get out of the requirements of No child left behind if you adopted common core). The different types of assessment are Formative, what happens in the classroom daily, and is feedback to adjust instruction and to support learning. Interim or benchmark assessments are done several times a year, and demonstrate mastery of a set of standards and used to inform stakeholders of results. The last kind of assessments is summative, and are the statewide end of grade, end of course tests given once, to demonstrate overall mastery and is high stakes accountability. Currently the commission is considering interim assessments, to be able to evaluated mastery on a set number of standards for reporting purposes to the parents and other stakeholders on student achievement at any time. There are challenges with this approach, Mr Peek mentioned this type of assessment is basically reflecting the teacher, the school, the individual subject, but not a statewide comparison. What is taught is measured locally. How would they inform the General Assembly on outcome, this is currently done through the summative testing process. Dr. Oxendine said there are 3 working committees on how to assess students. They will form a pilot program prior to any final implementation. At the High School level, they are considering a nationally normed test like the ACT, instead of the end of grade.ciyurse test.

Dr. Rebecca Blessing joined the conference via phone to share her state’s (KY) experience with the review process on Common Core. It was evident she is an avid proponent of Common Core and sounded amazingly similar to the testimony’s previously presented by NC DPI. KY has implemented an online tool for “stakeholders” to read the standards and then provide specific, actionable feedback on any particular standards with which they have an issue. This tool is called the Kentucky Academic Standards Challenge. Basically, a survey. Participation has not been great, approximately 2500 responses, she felt the reason is that there is a lack of interest or that there is not a problem with the standards, or this is not the fight process to provide feedback. She obviously felt that public input was not important. Andre Peek mentioned that everyone needed to have a voice in the evaluation process, and this type of tool seemed to be a good way to do that. There was additional information shared on KY’s experiences and reasons for their protocol. Dr. Scheik had several concerns that he shared, including the process of reviewing standards one by one is arduous, and not likely to be done by many, that DPI has had too much control on the survey’s that have been done, he has an issue with how they have been done, and wants the commission to do their own survey. Dr. McCoy shares there is an online survey for the public available now. Katie Lemons pulled up the survey and reported that she saw no difference in this survey and the one previously posted for the teachers. There is not consensus of the value of this survey, discussion on varying kinds of surveys and who the respondents should be. Ms. Lemons said there needs to be some open ended questions specifically for parents, example, How long are you spending on homework at night? What is the impact of this on your family? Dr. Jeffrey Isenhour feels the only people that should be in the survey are principals, Math teachers and superintendents. This will be a continuing topic as no consensus was reached.

Tammy Covil brought up the issue of integrated math, that they should recommend to the State Board returning to the traditional math alignment. Dr, Isenhour disagrees, mentioning the longer this plays out the higher the cost in dollars and time from the teachers. He was reminded that currently all the Math teachers were themselves educated in the traditional manner, and going back would not be a problem. Andre Peek asked for the committee to do some work in the next 2 weeks and try to find out from local LEA’s what their thoughts are, and maybe consider giving the local schools the choice. Bill Cobey requests more discussion and a vote. Mr. Peek asks Dr Isenhour to make questions for teachers and superintendents, etc, collect input to share with the commission, and then they would vote. E mail Dr. Eisenhaur with your suggestions and questions. Again, more discussion on who should participate in this Math discussion, Tammy Covil states that Administrators and Superintendents’ go around their staff all the time. In the interest of time, Andree Peek interrupts this discussion with the recommendation that Katie Lemons and Laurie McCullum work together on setting up a community survey to meet NC needs. Jeff is to work independently on the math questions. In addition, timing is an issue as the students are picking their courses for next year now, so it may be another school year before any recommended change can go into effect. There will be a specific conference call to address this math question.

A quick wrap up on moving forward, Andre Peek says they need to get started on their recommendations on the the changes for individual standards, to keep, change or toss. This comment brought objections from Jennie Metcalf who stated again that Senator Tillman told them not to use Common Core, so what standards were they to review? Peek answered that they are to review the current standards, and recommend changes. Because of this exchange, I do not think there is a clear understanding of what kind of latitude the commission has. Bill Cobey shares that whatever they do, they have to be sure the process they use is clear, showing deliberation and study about their recommendations before they are presented to the state board of education for approval.

Olivia Oxendine asked to have 10 minutes on next months agenda to address questions on the assessments.

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