Category Archives: Common Core



Contact our State Board of Education members and encourage them to support the recommendations of the Academic Standards Review Commission.
Reliable inside the beltway sources have leaked information to Common Core Warriors that the Gates Foundation and other nameless, faceless, unelected,unaccountable entities have joined forces to flood our State Board of Education with letters urging them to disregard the recommendations from the Academic Standards Review Commission regarding the State’s stance on Common Core.

This is an effort to undermine the efforts of the Academic Standards Review Commission before the report is filed!  The ASRC has been operating for over a year fulfilling the charge given them by the General Assembly under Senate bill 812, which was to Repeal and Replace Common Core.Obviously these for profit entities are fearful that the Commission Report will not be favorable to their self serving interests and bottom lines.

Please contact our State Board of Education members and encourage them to seriously consider the recommendations that will be put forth on December18th.  I have included their  e mail contact information.

Bill Cobey


A.L. Collins


Janet Cowell


Reginald Kenan


Rebecca Taylor


Kevin Howell


Gregory Alcorn


Olivia Oxendine    (already committed to vote against Common Core)


Lt. Gov. Dan Forest   (already opposes CC)


Dr. Rodney Shotwell


Evelyn Bulluck


Steve Lassiter


James E. Ford


Keana Triplett


June Atkinson    (supports Common Core 100% and isn’t going to change her mind, is President of one of the 2 organizations holding the copyright to CC.  Superintendent of Public Instruction)


Eric C. Davis


Wayne McDevitt


Patricia Willoughby

The decision will be made very soon on CommonCore.  If we don’t get rid of this bad education now, we are not going to be able to, because it is being written into many state and national laws.  Federal government has quietly taken over state education, unconstitutionally, and without any legal authority.

I also ask that you write your Representatives and Senators and share your thoughts on this attempt to undermine this process to repeal and replace Common Core.

Thank you



Kim Fink



Public Education Chair, CCTA

Stop Congress From Passing The Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Kim Fink
CCTA Public Education Committee

Kim warns that we must act quickly because Congress is quite likely  to vote tomorrow on a bill that, again, they have not had time to read and passing it could have dire consequences.

As usual it all sounds very good, but Kim and some other Watchdogs believe that it contains some more methods for the federal government to extent it’s illegal involvement into public education in order to indoctrinate the nation’s children.

Please check out the documentation you can find HERE and for some tips on how to effectively influence your US Representatives and Senators click HERE.

Legislative Action Report on Education, Money, Jihadists in NC, and more

Dear CCTA Members and Friends,

If you don’t have much time, please go directly to the paragraph below with the words North Carolina Education Plan in bold type for a free solution to one of our most perplexing problems, and read that. Then, drop down to the paragraph with the words Syrian refugees in bold type, and read to the end.

I’ve talked to several legislators since the close of the General Assembly session. Most of them have expressed the same general idea about the budget. That is they take pleasure in the fact that the increase in spending is pretty much limited to the increase in North Carolina’s population plus the rise of costs caused by inflation.

Let that sink in a minute.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, it’s right and proper only if spending in the prior year was an appropriate amount. It seems to me that government was too big in the prior year, and it will be too big next year, too. And this is with a Republican majority who say they want smaller government. We need to communicate with our representatives at all levels of government that we are serious about wanting smaller government.

There are three more topics I’ve discussed with legislators recently.

We want Common Core academic standards gone from North Carolina. To a person, every legislator to whom I’ve expressed that desire has said that after they’ve received the report of the Academic Standards Review Commission in December, they expect a sub-committee of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee to be set up to consider the report and how to follow up on it. They don’t want to lose the time over the winter before the next legislative session convenes.

That is a terrific idea, and I hope it happens. Please express that notion to every legislator whose ear you can get.

Also, in testimony before the Commission, Jerry Egolf, Linda Harper, and Kathy Young presented the North Carolina Education Plan as a proposed replacement for Common Core. Please ask the legislators with whom you discuss this issue to take a close look at it. Sandra Stotsky (one of the two professors on the Common Core Validation Committee who refused to sign off on Common Core) has praised the North Carolina Education Plan. The plan can be downloaded for free by going to

I asked Senator Norman Sanderson about why we had failed to get rid of the requirement for a Certificate of Need in North Carolina, and when we might expect to get rid of it. He said he’s unsure about why it didn’t pass in the recently completed session, but he believes it has a good chance to pass in the upcoming session.

I had thought this issue was dead. Thank goodness I was wrong! Please tell every legislator you can that you want this to come before them in the short session, and tell them very plainly that you want the Certificate of Need (CON) requirement gone.

I also asked Norm about how we can get Syrian refugees (actually, potential Islamic Jihadists) out of North Carolina. He spoke of Governor Pat McCrory’s statement on the subject, and said he’d immediately sent the Governor a letter expressing appreciation for his action.

Both things are good, but we need to do more. We already have 59 Syrians relocated in North Carolina, and we are still threatened with the influx of many, many more. We are kind people, but we would be exceedingly foolish if we exposed our children, grandchildren, and ourselves to that Trojan horse. Please call, write, and pester our U.S. and N.C. representatives about removing this serious threat to our homeland.

If government can’t get protecting our citizens right, everything else will quickly become a moot point.

Very truly yours,


(Raynor James, Chairman, Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association’s Legislative Action Committee)

Craven County Board of Education
Raynor and I attended the Craven County School Board meeting on 19 November, and it was a little different from the usual ones. When the meeting first started, we couldn’t hear much of what was going on because Chairman Ipoch and Superintendent Mills were huddling over something, and since they were sitting side by side, we in the “audience” could not hear. I asked the Chairman to please use the mikes so we could hear, and he said he didn’t think they were turned on, and asked if I could hear now.  I said I could since he was now addressing us. From then, on we could hear okay.

The part we couldn’t hear was probably about the problem that a quorum was not expected to be present at the evening session. They usually take motions and act on them at the evening session, but since they did not expect a quorum then, they decided to take motions and act on them during this morning work session. School Board Member, Kim Smith, kindly explained that to us toward the end of the meeting.
The agenda clearly showed that they expected to hear from six of their eighty-four (84) administrative staff members on the subjects of child nutrition, transportation, curriculum, finance, human resources, and public relations.

Most of these reports were pretty mundane and contained things like items that need to be removed from the “child nutrition” program (by whose order was not clear) and school buses that need to be retired.

However, when it got to the discussion of approving Action Plans for School Improvement, there was much gnashing of teeth that a plan had to be prepared at all. They railed against the idea that the three schools that scored “D,” which translates to 40 to 54 numerically, should be required to have an improvement plan. The Board member that made the motion to approve the plans (which were not even discussed, nor were they available for review at the meeting), said she did so reluctantly because they had no choice but to approve the plans as they were required by “state.” Chairman Ipock said, “we have to approve the plans, but we don’t approve of the process.”
There were such comments as, “I think it’s a mistake,” and, “Proficiency and growth are confusing,” and, “Our best teachers are in tears over this,” and, “These letter grades hurt the schools.”  There were also objections to the “Testing Advisory Council” that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) set up.

The Board seemed united in agreeing that “poverty” is the issue, not race, gender, etc.  I would like to have asked them, “If that is the case, why are so many records required to compare performance on the basis of race, gender, country of origin, etc.?”  I know that, when I was growing up, my family was still suffering from “The Great Depression,” but we darn sure went to good public schools.  I believe they were better than most of today’s public schools.  We learned patriotism, how government is supposed to work, about our founders and the settlers of America (who were treated as heroes, not racists) and, by the way, high school graduates either got a job or went on to college, mostly four year universities.

Oh yeah, the Board approved a plan to send students on an “out of Country” trip to Italy in June of 2017.  It was unclear as to what extent taxpayer money is underwriting the trip.  My senior class did not get a class trip, and Raynor’s got to go on a wonderful trip to Philadelphia.  (She paid her own way.)  My how things have changed.

Lastly, there was some discussion of $200,000 the Board of Commissioners gave the school system for computers. There was a question about what happened to the old ones, but the Board seemed to take this for a joke.  They also discussed a couple of other financial matters that they referred to as “Strategic Direction Alignment: Efficient and Effective Operations.”  Don’t they enjoy using fancy phrases?  One might almost call it “puffery.”
Respectfully submitted,
Hal James
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

Poverty isn’t the only problem with public education

If you’ve followed local and state news lately, you undoubtedly have read about low performing schools in Craven County and throughout the state.

The N.C. General Assembly recently changed what it means to be a low performing school and while Craven County had three, there were 578 additional ones throughout the state.

The State Board of Education defines low-performing schools as those that receive a grade of D or F and as a school that either meets expected growth or not.

To break down the grading system – which in itself is flawed – a D equals any number grade from a 40 to a 54. To put it bluntly – that number grade would be a big fat F for a student.

But I digress.

Across the state, Board of Education members fought back. Wake County’s board, which had at least 20 schools that didn’t make the grade, decided to show their disapproval of the ranking by abstaining from voting on plans to improve the schools. Of course, their votes counted as affirmative ones, so it really was just a statement and nothing more. It kind of makes you wonder whether they even read the plans to approve the schools in the first place to be honest.

A few days after Wake’s lack of a vote, Craven County Board of Education members enter the fray. But they couldn’t all be available to vote on the plans. Three members were absent during their work session and another member had a family emergency. So, instead of voting on the plans during their regularly scheduled board session at night (when the public can attend), the few members bitterly voted on the plans, all the while blaming poverty.

Across the state, nearly every media outlet blames poverty solely. Even Chairman Carr Ipock spent time during the work session to whine about schools not having enough resources, children coming to school unprepared, etc.

No one can dispute poverty plays a role in education. Study after study says this is true.

However, at no point should our elected officials, educational leaders or teachers use this as a blanket excuse for mediocre performance.

School districts across the state were very quick to boast a trend in the number of students graduating. So, if we are to assume graduation rates are increasing is poverty then not a problem? Or are we graduating sub-par students as well?

According to an article by Dr. Christopher Boerl entitled, “Poverty Need Not Be A Reason Why American Schools Fail,” written two years ago, he gives examples of many schools who have succeeded in spite of funding.

Amanda Ripley, author of “The Smartest Kids in the World,” devoted her profession to identify why schools are failing and what can be done about it.

As she states, “Compared with their counterparts abroad, too many American educators rely on poverty as an excuse for poor student achievement. Indeed, a large body of research shows that teachers who hold high expectations for all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, get better results.”

And Ripley’s research tears apart what many of us who are parents already know is failing: Common Core.

“Academically, American schools are too easy, with surveys of students showing pervasive boredom and low expectations,” she writes. “Our curriculum needs a booster shot, and not just in reading and math, the two subjects covered by the new Common Core national standards, but in every area, including technical and career education.”

As a parent of a child who is not living in poverty, but certainly not living in lush circumstances, I can vouch for Ripley’s assessment.

My child is hindered by Common Core math. He’s performing at three grade levels above his current grade level in math and is stuck drawing boxes.

He is drawing boxes to add. And it’s insulting, not to mention a time waster, which he already understands.

Does no one see a problem in that? He looks at me as we do his homework and rolls his eyes because he doesn’t see the value in the education he’s being offered. If he in his first few years of school doesn’t see the value in the educational process afforded to him through the public school system now, why should he ever?

So, no Chairman Ipock, members of the Craven County Board of Education and the Wake County Board of Education, it’s not just about poverty.

Children need to feel valued. They need to be challenged. And they need more than sub-par performance and whining about funds if we want to fix our public education system.

Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Education is not a problem. Education is a solution.”

So, let’s start coming up with some real solutions. Otherwise, my child and many others will look back on their school days as Mark Twain did and repeat his famous words: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting October 19th, 2015

North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission 19Oct15

Hi All,

You can read my are my minutes from Monday October 19th Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting by clicking HERE.

I do my best to get most of the conversations, makes for some really long and sometimes boring reading!  For additional information about the ASRC, go to their website at

Kim Fink

CCTA Public Education Committee

This is Hal,
I’d like to add that these excerpts are especially interesting and that the citizens input during the “forum” was also especially interesting:

Olivia Oxendine: Wants to know what kind of report does the General Assembly expect, an Executive Summary and a 10 page report? Asks if the General Assembly has given any instruction on what they expect in the final report?
Andre Peek: Asks Jo to contact the committee from the General assembly to ask for guidelines for the final report. 2) Get the commissioners a time line for the completion of each of the committees to finalize their deliverables. 3) Collate all feedback and survey responses to incorporate into the draft final report.
Tammy Covil: Shared a comment from teacher about Math II, who felt it was discombobulated, disjointed, that some topics flowed and you could build upon them, but because there are so many different math families, it seemed that they just appeared out of nowhere, with no prior relationship for kids to draw on. Confusion on how deep am I to go, if I don’t go far enough the child misses something. There is no clear direction, no map, and no navigation. Math was overwhelmingly one of the top subjects of discussion.
Tammy: Shared that she made a point of asking this question to math teachers during the focus group meetings. In High School math, comparing the traditional math vs integrated approach, and whether they would support a return to the traditional math, overwhelmingly they wanted to go back to Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, and they did support teaching those classes over a year long period instead of a block schedule so they could spend time for remediation. Liked the MN math. Most of the teachers were In agreement with Ted’s math findings.
Olivia: By and large, ELA teachers feel that the students are not being well prepared in writing and composition, what is tested is taught, therefore when we left behind the 4th 7th and 10th grade writing tests, over time instruction in writing is waned, teachers say we do need something more direct and specific around pure composition opposed to pure essay.
Andre: Adds that we think we are teaching good writing and reading skills but one teacher pointed out that in reality, most of the kids are actually only seeing and reading power points. They get allot of informational text, but not learning how to write.

CCTA statement during the forum portion of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Meeting 19 October 2015

Coastal Carolina Taxpayers
Watchdog Report
My statement during the forum portion of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Meeting 19 October 2015 was as follows:

My name is Hal James. I live at 305 Calico Drive, New Bern North Carolina, Craven County.  I am a member of an organization that has had representation at every one of your meetings.

As you know, the duty of this Commission is to set educational standards that will guide the education of North Carolina’s students. That responsibility was passed on to you by the NC Legislature. They asked you to determine standards of education that meet the needs of North Carolinians.

North Carolina is a sovereign state.   The US Constitution was crafted by our Nation’s founders to guarantee that the sovereignty of the states joining the union would never be impugned.  NO WHERE IN THIS DOCUMENT CAN AUTHORITY FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INVOLVE ITSELF IN EDUCATION OF THE CITIZENS OF THE SEVERAL STATES BE FOUND!  THE US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHOULD NOT EXIST!

Yes, I know that the proponents of “Common Core” claim it was devised by an organization made up of state governors and state education directors, but anyone who can’t see through that does not have any business involving themselves in setting education standards.

The mission of Common Core advocates is clear. It is to control what American Students are to be taught and how American students are to be taught. Here are some of the messages being sent to students via Common Core:

* Your parents are not qualified to teach you. A lot of what they “know” is wrong.

* America was founded by cruel white supremacists who took the land away from Native Americans and enslaved Africans.

* The morality of your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents does not belong in the modern 21st Century.

* The religion of your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents does not belong in the modern 21st Century.
*   America has a history of cruel treatment of other nations. Look what they did to Japan with the atomic bombs.

* The United States is too nationalistic. We should not believe in American exceptionalism, but accept that America is merely a nation among nations, an equal partner in the world community, and as such, should accept world government.
I firmly believe that this last puts all the rest into perspective. A few very powerful people are trying to rule the world. I recommend that you read Tragedy and Hope 101 by Joseph Plummer before you dismiss me as a “right wing conspiracy theorist.”  It’s an easy read. Much easier than the book it is based on, Carroll Guigley’s 1,300 page Tragedy and Hope.

Please reject Common Core and replace it with true North Carolina Educational standards.

NC Academic Standards Review Commission- Meeting Minutes 21 Sept 2015

ASRC meeting minutes.   Sept 21, 2015

All pre meeting handouts:

Ann Clark, Jeannie Metcalf, Denise Watts, Jeff Isenhour, are on conference call

Dr. Ted Scheik, Bill Cobey, Jo Herrera (staff), Tammy Covil, Andre Peek, Dr. Olivia Oxendine are present

Dr. Laurie McCollum and Katie Lemons are absent.

Andre Peek: Continuing to get input from key stakeholders, emails and other correspondence from across the state, they receive and appreciate all input and will consider the input as they come to set of recommendations for the State Board and General Assembly.

Approve minutes of the last meeting, Ann made motion to approve Jeannie Metcalf 2nd, passed.

Old business: Jo: Update on timeline activities, this is last time we have guest presenters scheduled. October focus will be on focus group meetings with teachers in various parts of the state. Handout on the schedule and locations on the ASRC site (

Dr. Oxendine:   Talks about regional meetings for teachers in region 4. Three scheduled meetings in October.   October 6th, at UNC Pembroke, maybe 40 to 50 teachers expected to attend. On the 8th, Richmond County, same number expected, will be held at Richmond County Central office. October 15, at Moore County central office. Her question is, while she can speak to the English Language Arts questions, she is asking for someone from the math team to go to answer the questions and address recommendations. She feels like in fairness to the teachers they need to have someone speaking that can talk about Math. Looking to assign other commissioners. Will have skype capabilities. Andre will attend at least one of the meetings in person, Ted has back problems, doesn’t know about skype, Tammy askes about someone from the work group, stated that several of his team is working, and will have to ask and see.

Andre: Offers to drive Ted, Ted has problems sitting, not just driving.

Tammy, wants some representation at least at one of the meetings.

Olivia wants someone at each of the meetings.

Shares that the teachers will be assigned to small groups, and will have questions based on the draft findings that were reported last month.

Ted:   Doesn’t want to go a meeting to listen to a person brag about attributes of CC, if they want to ask intelligent questions ok, but he doesn’t want to hear… we completely support CC and finds himself sitting there with lots of criticism and biased comments.

Cobey: Tells Olivia to thank Dr.Simeon, for organizing the teacher interactions in the Central Region.

Cobey: Wants to know about hiring someone to write the reports for the final recommendations.

Andre: thinks Jo can do the report writing just fine.

Olivia Oxendine: Shares a draft outline of a report to use as a framework to get in the ballpark of how the final report should look. Asked Jo to begin to look at the framework, and is confident in her writing abilities also wants to have someone record the focus group meetings so everyone can see and post the report for the public. Jo is working with each contact person in Sandhills district

Andre: Point raised from time to time, point is we (commissioners) are not looking for reiterations, re hash of past Common Core discussions, we are looking on how to improve the standards as our feedback. It is incumbent on commissioners to set the tone and expectations of the meetings, intending to get reactions to what is working and what is not, look at the draft report as only a draft, and question attendees, does this represent an improvement to the process and standards versus what they currently have?

Andre: Illuminating event from Raleigh Charter School, read a report that they took an unpacking document for the standards, and developed a curriculum.

Ted: Shared that it was a 2013 curriculum used by Raleigh Charter, and is what they based their opinion on, the standards are consistent, the unpacking documents are not and were not part of the standards.

Olivia: The state requires a review of standards, the revision process began last year, part of the state’s law that this happens every 5 years.

Tammy: Are the unpacking documents from the spring of this year, the documents were revised, so the clarification is ongoing with the unpacking documents, changes will continue to happen, but they are based on the standards themselves.

Andre: Point he wants to make is there is good information coming out of the focus sessions, it was the implementation of the standards, and different districts are interpreting the standards differently.

Ted: What are we going to do in the classroom, because it is not clear in the classroom. Teachers   have to rely on local education authority for guidance on expectations. He has 2 people in his work group that are from In Wake County and they got advice on what to do.   There were not resources.

Cobey: Has the county provided unpacking documents?

DPI representative, Dr. Curtis: Notes and unpacking documents have been given to the field. Math standards with clarifications for spiraling through integrated Math. These tell teacher where to start and stop in each course on standards, may have something that will go through all 3 classes. Purpose of unpacking document is to be sure everyone is on the same page for testing and accountability.

DPI, Dr. Curtis: With conceptual understanding, the way we learned math, you learn an algorithm, the teacher showed how to do it, many of us can’t remember that approach, so when we adopted CC at elementary level, and learned different ways to approach a problem, so if you can’t remember an algorithm, you may be able to reach back and remember a strategy to get this problem solved. Says it was a digitized approach. (Whatever that means!)

Ted: We need people to know standard stuff, standard rules, and logic, doesn’t care how they get there, fine with multiple approaches, but in K – 8 emphasis on math models is a mistake, thinks if you take an average student having a hard time with place value (borrowing) and try to tech 3 or 4 other novel methods, that are overelaborated, kids will zone out.

Andre: Key point we need to keep in mind is standards must be developmentally appropriate, what they are capable of. Feels like there is a lot of confusion on teaching methods versus the standards. If you are accountable to the standard, how you get there should be decided at the school and district level. Integrated math, he believes is a method, not a standard.

Olivia: to Dr. Curtis: we are still going to be plagued with math issues, we have to continue getting math right, she read in research that if a kid has a few years of problems in math, they become fearful of math, her question is on the end of year test, are kids tested on being able to do the problem several different ways, a way to discern technique?

DPI: In the past, taught only algorithms and problems, easier than multiple approaches, however there is research that says multiple strategies is more advantageous. Want the methods of teaching to address different ways kids learn.

Tammy: In previous standards was this method of multiple strategies discouraged?

Point of introducing critical thinking strategies too young, confusing students and creating more problems than we are attempting to solve, thinks it is dangerous to play with as time progresses, and we are losing students through this process.   Child development specialist last month said we are shortchanging students.

Andre: Good teacher feedback from teacher stakeholders surveys, interested in hearing from the teachers on how they look at the statements they make, and how they simplify the standards. Good discussions to have. Up to the Commissioners to take the feedback and use it in the direction they are taking.

Action: Get a math member into the sessions that they will be having in Olivia’s group.

Ann: at a minimum, Ted could do a video, have it available at the sessions if his team cannot be there. At least he could have an overview with greater depth. One solution.

Ted: Point, are teaching methods a valid part of the standards? Going into the unpacking, what topics are we going to study, what skills, and when will the kids meet those skills. MN and VA let the teachers dictate that pace, ditch CC and get the teaching methods of CC out, and get back to basics of the standards.

Andre:  Kathy Young may be able to help in Math presentations.

Has a list of questions to add to focus group questions: 1. how are you using the unpacking documents, are you using these and calling them the standards? If the documents shows 5 different ways to do question, do the teachers have to teach all 5? 2. How are you managing sequencing between grade levels and school calendars (traditional vs nontraditional calendar) 3. What are the key issues that you hear from the parents? Impact on family, what they see as an issue, standards vs, rollout vs curriculum. 4. Considering that several steps may be needed to improve the NC standards, what is the most significant step we can take now, our reports don’t prioritize recommendations on what to do on day one. Interested to know what they would advise as far as approach, where would we start? 5. Current resource constraints aside, would like to hear about constraints on implementation of recommendations, positive or negative.

Olivia: Suggests review of questions, be sure to use appropriate wording, for instance, his list of questions, question 3 asks which standards seem to be lacking in clarity, and how, wants that word changed to why? (From the list of questions that Jo passed out)

Jo wants the list of questions to be distributed before the meeting so teachers can think about them, maybe send in some written correspondence ahead of time.

Will direct the conversation into some of what we want to hear for improvements.

Ted: Wants to add to question list: Do the standards specify the teaching method?

Olivia: Preliminary draft reports need to go out to the teachers prior to the meetings. Jo will link the reports to Dr Simeon. Sandhills teacher have requested them, and have not been able to get online.

Andre: Back to the timeline, no speakers currently scheduled on timeline, does not preclude any of the commissioners from adding a speaker if there is someone they want to hear from. Timeline is to set a target for when we give teacher input to the commissioners, collect and digest that information, so they all have a common view on what occurred, should occur shortly after the last meeting, Oct 15, no more than 5 days, definitely before the Nov meeting. Catalog the various recommendations and prepare those for commissioners input, recognize that Laurie put together a survey doc on google docs for them to use where she itemized recommendations and asked for input from the other commissioners. He would like to put together a similar document for both math and English Language Arts so each commissioner can be prepared to take a position on each recommendation made up to this point. They have collected and understood recommendations, but they will all need to be prepared to take a position and come to consensus.

Olivia: Suggests in regards to a google doc, pull each preliminary report, pull out the recommendations and begin to think about them, the ELA report is very detailed, so just focus on recommendations.

Andre wants this to be as detailed and actionable as possible.

Tammy: This has to lay out the issues that were determined during the review board, will become the framework of the final reports.

Olivia: When report goes to state boards there will be significant questions around the methodology and report needs to be clear on that methodology.

Andre: Timeline to teacher groups and to establish a point of view on budget impacts, by implementing this plan, we save dollars or we will need to invest additional dollars, so the General Assembly and State Board know that recommendations implemented will have these budget impacts. Feels like if impact is not addressed, we may be told this is great input, but we can’t afford it.

Say in math, we recommend that we adopt MN standards, as a way to simplify the standards, ok, what does it take to do that?

Ted: Stotsky said to take another states standards and tweak to NC needs would probably cost a few million dollars.

Andre: What does it cost to modify standards?

Tammy: Talked about we (commissioners) were not qualified to write standards, she says she is not qualified to say what something will cost, Feels that the emphasis on technology, digital learning is costly.

Olivia: Suggests instead of budget analysis, it is wise to lay out in their recommendations on what they have decided would make strong standards for NC and, will have the data that we can say this is what makes a good set of standards.

Andre: Agrees they won’t do the budgetary impact

Turn over to Tammy to introduce the speakers. Have their bios from the ASRC site (

Carrie Tulbert:

Collaborated on this presentation, Common Core standards, a Principal’s Perspective

Slides: talked to their colleges. Overall Positives Logic is sound, huge transition, appreciate purpose of CC and feels like it does prepare kids for College and career

Collaboration: likes teachers working together, depending on each other instead of alone. Conceptual thinking is better for the students and right for the students, and levels the playing field from drill and kill. Learning together, will make kids globally competitive. Is harder to teach and harder to do, but is worth it. Feels it works beautifully the way it is written. Is a more student centered process.

Dale: Think about how to separate what you are looking for, board or teachers or parents, students, local employers, different groups want different things, how do we mesh all those to make it work and satisfy everyone. Take politics out if it, what is best for the kids, what is good for the state and the country, is what the schools are in place to do. Glad that more people are getting involved in writing standards. In his 19 years, has seen the transient population is growing, jobs changing, careers changing, at Havelock, in military population, kids around the world, when kids move, helps to have consistent standards. Student centered approach, likes that move.

Dale: Overall concerns:   Time spent on testing, every minute spent on testing is a minute less of instructional time. No getting around this, want to be sure accountability is in place, but not more than we need. Kids take different amounts of time in learning, need time. Concern over evaluation of teachers based on test scores can create positive and negative interest, standards and assessments must be closely aligned, important to roll out together, can’t separate them. Concern about local influence for curriculum, is there money to access (test) the standards, conceptual development and assessments in place. Focus on learning how to learn instead of content specific. Walk around knowledge, when you talk to the student, they want to know why they can’t use their phone to look up the information they need instead of memorizing it. The employers are saying the same thing, the Chamber of Commerce too, especially for kids not going to 4 yr. College.

Tammy: reiterates what she is hearing, overall positive, they feel logic is sound, collaboration of teachers, all positive, yet you anticipate that the student will take off from the standards, why would accountability be a concern if you anticipate improvement from the students,

Dale, it takes time, how much time, gaps in student knowledge, tests that align, gaps in knowledge, kids won’t do as well on the tests at first, time to fill in knowledge gap. Issue, teachers feel like even though the results are honest, the scores are being used to attack them because people expect improvement over night.

Tammy: NC adopted this program, they are looking for results, but keeps hearing CC is great, but can’t quantify improvement, is a concern for her.

Ted: Positives listed, but didn’t see anything that was specific to the CC standards, this review can be done under any standards, and except for desirability of universal standards, and you haven’t said anything specific about standards. Same standards in 2 districts, have 2 different tests, so the kid’s knowledge was different.

Carrie: Standards are solid as far as principal, implementation has been the hard part, speaking on part of colleagues.

Bullet point on logic (Dale) saying that it is logical to think kids should have the same standards as kids in different states and schools.

Ted: Says there will be “No excellence in the USA if everything is uniform”, look at MN used to be excellent in Math, NAEP MN comes out better, if you make everyone do the same thing, scores will come down, doesn’t see how uniform standards makes our education better, helps those that move,

Carrie: High expectations of standards are due to all kids.

Olivia:   We hear a lot about misalignment of standards and tests.

Dale: High School level, every 11th grader takes the ACT, stand to reason that they would learn what the ACT measures, to see how many of the kids are college ready. Not all students want to go to college. Some want to go straight into careers. Work Keys graduates, ready for the job. Stands to reason to get accurate data they should measure data against what the kid wants to do vs what we want them to do.

Olivia: what should be said about test standards and alignment?

Dale, difficult to get accurate assessment from multiple choice questions. (COMMENT: If CC does what it promises, kids should be able to do well on any test given to them).

Jeff: The assessments they get doesn’t give enough information, from DPI, what the large areas of goals are. Don’t know where the weakness are.

Carrie: reading is 3 goals, cc has more than 3 goals. Is a DPI issue.

Andre: seems to me that the challenge you mentioned (Work Keys, ACT, end of course, etc.) as this relates to standards, rigorous enough to provide kids the knowledge to pursue whatever they wish to pursue, college, but it is troubling that it sounds like we are frustrated with the ability to align the standard to a specific path or direction. If student applies himself to a test ACT to do well, because of what their choice is, but another kid that doesn’t want to go to college so doesn’t care, will not test well.

Tammy: Careful, some students ask why we have to know this if I can google it, she says the ability to find the resources needed is important, what if the technology is not available. How much of this approach is pushed by business interests and how much is academic application, or theory. Regardless of direction they (kids) are heading, allot of business has influence that doesn’t have the academic expertise of the leaders in academics.

Olivia: heart of relationship between standards and curriculum, how work curricula is worked around them.

Carrie: how do we teach this skill, not necessarily through a textbook, teachers use whatever they can get their hands on. (COMMENT: Who is vetting these resources for appropriateness? Who is accountable when no one is vetting curriculum?)

Olivia: problem, teachers get resources the best way they can, some teachers don’t know how, or have no resources, this creates inequality across the board, if resources are not as rich or available, or teacher doesn’t have the initiative to gather the resources themselves. How do the Principals be sure the teachers are doing this job?

Carrie: District resources are different, in an F school, the resources she has, is embarrassing, and then she is tasked with what is she going to do for the teachers, everything costs money, they don’t have the money, and digital online resources are available. Have to trust the teachers as professionals that they know what is appropriate.

Dale: rural district, 5 math teachers. Have to collaborate across all the schools to find resources. Having common standards lets teachers collaborate across state and country. Digital resources, online help.

Andre: Math specifics around current standards.

Carrie: differences in conceptual thinking, we assume Kindergarten students have prior knowledge and they don’t. This has changed more recently than in the past. Colleagues share that this causes frustration in parents and the teachers missing out on prior knowledge, but conceptual thinking is a good thing, they need the time to get this knowledge. Elementary kids not all ready for conceptual thinking.

Andre: How do you deal with this, fail them, what?

Carrie:   Is a difficult issue, do you want a 15 year old in a third grade class?

Dale: In a perfect world, we should let kids move along at the speed they can, as fast as they can. You would list what a kid should know at the end of their education, feels like it would be beneficial to know and pass kids when they know, they advance, specifically state skills all the way through a degree in engineering, (or whatever) as they showed mastery of skills, check them off, don’t slow them down, keep them going. (COMMENT: Interesting to me that he is acknowledging that every child is different, learns in a different way, at a different pace, and at the same time professes to support the SAME SET OF STANDARDS, and EXPECTATIONS for ALL the kids? Seems to be contradictory to me!)

Andre: What keeps you from doing that now? (Comment, CC will not allow this, kids all follow a pacing guide)

Dale: Accountability

Dale: Students have to want to learn, some choose not to, so an evaluation piece is not fair to the teacher.

Carrie: Doesn’t like the accountability system, doesn’t like multiple choice questions.

They want specifics to be measured, ELA has and likes some flexibility in what is taught. Math likes it more regulated, black and white.

Dale: His teachers like our specific ELA standards, feel they are flexible enough that they let us teach concepts, and they were happy with their assessments. Math was a different answer. Best students take math 1 in middle school. Math I exam is very difficult……….required up to 4 concepts to solve a single problem.

Andre: Math sequencing seems to be an issue.

Olivia:   Point about logic, Feels ELA in 4th and 5th grade is not logical would recommend, they work on it, along with elementary grades. Principals and ELA teachers need to go through the 4th grade writing and 5th grade writing standards. When she thinks about logic, she is thinking about content logic and is a huge problem in those areas.

Carrie: What gets tested gets taught. K-5 colleagues frustrated with the writing standards. In a pure curriculum, writing resides in ELA, informational writing could be in other areas, science, social studies.

Tammy:   Contradicts critical thinking if you can’t express your thoughts in written form. Said she has seen letters from high schoolers that would “make your toes curl”

Carrie: Writing is not tested, you would have to create the time to teach.

Tammy: Testing is driving the curriculum. It takes time for the student to learn, time for the teacher to grade, this is subjective.

Ted: Does she think in their opinion, that the state needs to put emphasis on writing, and that it should be tested?

Carrie: too much testing, now, the assessment system we have now is too much. Can’t add another thing, would have to take something away,

Tammy: Would like to see end to NC final exam, because it is only used to evaluate teachers.

Olivia: Assessments in writing: does this and loves it. SAT requires a writing component, why would we not prepare our students to write if we don’t do this? Our students have to do it, but we don’t assess their writing in a format in NC

Dale, what do we want the students to learn, how do we add rigor? Make the kids write out their answers, takes time, to do and to grade. We don’t have that time.

Tammy: Her son had a graduation requirement project: why not use that written format to develop a resume, to apply to the direction the kid is headed. Emphasis on other things takes time away from writing.

Dale, Walkthrough observation, at his school, their goal is that every student read, write, and think in every class every day, track this data over time. When a teacher knows there is no writing assessment, it is hard to make the argument of why they need to take the time to do this.

Carrie: Larger issues: Transition into Common Core for the teachers was quick, too much, too fast, very different than what we had before, to transition and be evaluated this fast is causing frustration. Differences in NC on resources, feels this is wrong, inequity across the state.

Andre: regarding roll out, we recognize the transition was disruptive, could have been done better, one of things they heard about was from KY, they actually suspended evaluations for one year to give teachers a chance to get familiar with new standards. Recommend that maybe we slow down this process? Where would they slow things down if they had the opportunity?

Carrie: Educators need to teach what we currently have, with more teacher professional development, they need time to transition, time to find resources, if the commissioners choose to stick with CC, remove the high stakes accountability to evaluate teachers. Parents are having questions and concerns, they need to train everyone better, and the standards are not the devil, it is the implementation and they need time to develop. Rollout was not done well.

Andre: Different interpretations of what is standards and curriculum, have blurred lines, the Public Relations point to make, with that as the backdrop, is, if we communicate to the parents that these are terrific standards, read them for yourself, do you think they would understand?

Carrie: NO: parents are not educators! Teacher interrupts standards, they don’t expect the parents to read the standards. (Comment, nor do they want the parents to read them!)

Dale: This is a change in thought process. Standards used to be written for educators, now everyone wants to know what they mean, if it is for everyone, it needs to be written in a way they all can understand them.

Tammy: Biggest indicator of child success, is an involved parent, so why the standards shouldn’t be written in a way that the parents can follow along?

Olivia: Teachers should be so fluent in their understanding of the standards that they can convey them clearly. The teacher should be able to break down the standard when talking to a parent, so the parent can talk with their child and do something to help and support the child.

Ted: Math standards need to be cleaned up, too much jargon. He doesn’t like it when someone says leave it to the experts. Thinks that the K-8 math standards can be made lucid to everyone. Doesn’t know why we are having 8th grade teachers explain things that kids should already know.

Teachers speaking:

Ms. Mally: has handouts for the board, from Chapel Hill Carrboro schools, Commissioners were asked about and accountability, alignment of standards and testing, (This will be an attachment to the e mail as it was not in pre meeting handouts on the web)

End of grade math proficiency, 3 to 8th grade broken by race, when standards changed, the scores show an implementation dip, in 2003, and in 2013, with CC is another implementation dip. Recognize which subgroup most affected is the blacks, says they need to recognize it takes time for teachers, to learn, curriculum to align, and be aware of who it affects. (Comment, the achievement gap is evident in Latino’s as well)

Issue about standards and curriculum. Their district uses a program called “Understanding by Design” to develop curriculum based on standards. How it works, Identify what are the learning goals, (the standards), then what is the evidence that the students have mastered, (then access), then build the curriculum to teach and students show us what they know. This is a “backwards design model“. Professional design model in the Central region. (Comment: Seems bass ackwards to me, I feel like this is ripe for indoctrination. You have your goal, and then you set about to make the kids prove your point.)

To answer the question from commissioners about what shows positive evidence of achievement to these standards? On the 2nd page of their handout, what they will see in Math I is a big gain in proficiency this last year over previous year, have to wonder why, on the right is a list possible reasons, We do have coherent curriculum. Scope and sequence is better understood by teachers.

“Math vision” free online resource, have been using for 2 years, and have seen great results, and it is aligned to CC for the integrated math. (From Utah) Utilize high school trainers to unpack standards and train teachers. Gains because teachers have used for several years. Dramatic gains in scores shown in sub groups on the chart. They feel it is their curriculum that is cohesive and coherent, professional learning, using unpacking documents, and instructional focus for teachers in the classroom.

Coby: Graph in 2010, shows not much gap between subgroups and top performers, gets what they say about subgroups improvement, but they went down so far that any improvement would be dramatic. Still sees more of a gap than there was before. Graph is grades 3 –8, the other data is Math I.

Ms. Mally: Takes time for the results to show up. There is a lot of reading in this math that impacts the subgroup data. Improvement over time with these standards, scope and sequence. In math I, students have had CC all through middle school, so they are better prepared, but results take time to show up.

Coby:   Asks am I hearing that drop of proficiency in K-8 is due more to literacy than math?

Ms. Mally: Some of both

Cobey: What kind of plan do they have to close that gap? In Chapel Hill, this is the biggest challenge, this is a statewide problem. We have to close the achievement gap.

Ms. Mally:   Math I data shows that the idea of content standards, that the students are writing in math contexts, talking about it, how to orchestrate talking about math, takes time and attention to undue misconceptions. How to learn from common errors. Take a critical look at common errors, fix it with a process they call “Growth mindset”.

Olivia: So, they design their tests before they design their curricula? The test drives the curriculum. Understanding by design,

Understanding skills and knowledge, then evidence, (performance tasks), “Understanding by Design” is what the process is called. (How it works: goals equal the standards, understanding the essential questions, skills and knowledge is stage I. Evidence is stage II, results from what the students will know and do, they design performance tasks, after they test what they know, and they design instructional guides and curriculum to get them to what they want them to know.)

Ms. Bowers: Person County, N of Durham. Not clear why she is here, has been an educational afternoon, has learned some good things. Tells us she is in her 29th year teaching, but if this is pulled, she will be quitting. CC is not perfect, nor is any set of standards, but this is a basis. Can it be tweaked, yes.   Can it be improved on, yes, but it doesn’t need to be tossed. During the last 5 years, she has literally been through it all with CC, and she and her students are doing better.   Common themes she heard today, 1, heard that the problem is not the standards, but the resources, or lack thereof, CC was implemented poorly without resources. Previously they have been handed a set of standards and a curriculum that was handed to them, textbooks, curriculum handouts teacher’s edition books. With CC they were handed standards and told to develop their own resources and curriculum. They are in a rural district, do not have resources to put in kids’ education that other schools do. She goes to Pinterest for ideas and projects on functions. It takes time and effort to find the activities for the class. There are 4 others that teach math with her, they work together, come together every day, collaborate, and access day’s activities. In 1987, in Durham, she had lots of resources, she was in a trailer with 30 students, given a teacher edition book and told, see you in June. This changed with CC. She would love to have more clarification as to what the standards mean and how it will be tested. Wants to teach for a test, not TO a test. She then reads a standard, (Comment: We can’t understand what she read,) she, as a teacher, has the skills to interrupt the standard and to teach what is asked, but does that mean no clarification is needed to connect it to the children?. The Letter from 4th grade parent disturbed her, because the parent is saying that because I can’t understand, it means the way it is taught is not good for anyone. She would hate to think there was only one way to solve every problem. CC challenges them to come up with different ways to do things, they use a method called “do-undo”. A different methodology. Teaching the same concept using more than one method. Are there problems, yes, should they be thrown away, no. Do what is best for the kids, fix what we have if necessary and then move forward. If she has to start them over again, she can’t do that again to her students. Knew the drop in testing would happen because of the changes in the data. When they implemented CC and Math I, there were things that were tested that had been moved to 8th grade, but those kids did not have that in 8th grade with previous standards so they were tested on things they didn’t know. Knew the dip would come, knew there would be a knowledge gap.   Last yr. 9% of kids in Math I were proficient, this year 43% were. The standards can be the same, but the kids are coming from different backgrounds. Kids are different, the results will be different even if the standards are the same.

Andre: How to move forward, clarity and simplicity would be helpful.

Ms. Bowers: Clarity is what she would like to see. With CC came allot of money, there are times when she thinks the writers had to earn what they were writing! Making them wordy etc. She comes from a simple background, she can figure out the how and the why, if she knows the what!

Always questions, what skill is my kid applying this to? What type of problem am I applying this to? A concern is we don’t problem solve in a vacuum, and we don’t do the solving alone, when there is a problem, we put together minds to solve, she has a concern if kids can take skills and problem solve in a vacuum on their own on a multiple choice test.

Problem is lack of support from implementation, lack of resources, and lack of alignment. (Comment: Common Thread today, wonder if these guys aligned their comments!)

Ms. Hubbard: Lindsey Hubbard : Person County, a first grade teacher, currently a third grade teacher, is a supporter of the common core. Likes it. When CC came out, first grade had no state test like other grades did, but had benchmarks through their district. 20% of her kids were proficient, and what to do now to improve this, they had to pull from the professional leadership skills from other districts, teacher leaders. The objective is all teachers would understand and agree that the standards say the same thing, the expected action from the standard. Feels they need to collaborate and decide on the best way to teach the standards. As a result of this collaboration, at end of year, on same benchmark, 95% kids passed. Traditional algorithms are not wrong, but education is not one size fits all, everyone has the same endpoint, and how the particular kid may get the answer in a different way. Pulling together, taking success of others and create leaders within their district to help others, help me be more successful. (Comment: Common Core is a One Size fits all, this is contradictory)

They have good curriculum. Review teams, what is the standard, what is the essential question, student is focused on what they are learning.

In her opinion, K-3, keep standards, revise if necessary and clarify. Starting over will create more problems, time and money and apply across state to create a constant.

Andre: Theme throughout, today….. Teacher collaboration, encouraging to see this happening in the schools. Curious about the feedback he has seen, is when you teach math at the lower grade, kids are being challenged to know 4 or 5 ways to solve a specific problem, know them all in order to pass.

Lindsey:   It comes down to the child, when you collaborate with other teachers, you say this didn’t work, they may say, try this instead, and see if this will work. She thinks kids shouldn’t be forced to do other strategies. (Comment: Then why are the kids having to learn 4 or 5 strategy’s instead of just the ONE that works for them?, Which one of the many strategy’s will be tested?) Goal is for the kids to explain to the parents what they learned. End of grade EOG, use “Ready” that aligns with EOG, EOC.

Olivia: Students are required to describe their methodology in solving a math problem in a constructed response that is graded on a rubric. This requires a student that can’t read well to frame sentences, spell, punctuation etc., and doesn’t just deal with the math.

Lindsey; if we are testing math, she will judge the content of response, not because of punctuation or spelling, agrees that writing should be taught and assessed, but not take the math grade down for writing errors, the content of the answer is what she is looking for.

Mr. Ferguson: Trey, teaches math III in Wake County at Leesville High School. Feels the Commissioners have a flawed conception of the Math based on his reading of the draft report from the commission. States that the integrated concepts are broken into standards, this gives educators vertical alignment, not their complaint of repeated concepts.

Math standards system of skills Math I, Math II, and Math III, (in unpacking documents, includes the pacing of concepts and lists skills required for graduation)

Andre: Points out from earlier conversations, teaching methods and clarification, unpacking document, we see standards as confusing because of where specifics on what needs to be known, the specifics should be in the standard, not the unpacking document. If it is a method, we want to know if it is in the proper place to achieve the standard.

Ferguson: We need resources. High School standards are set with pacing guides for when things are taught.

Andre: Need to be addressed as far as clarity.

Ferguson: All districts should have access to unpacking documents and consistent resources. The draft recommendation says would be easier to return to old instead of revising CC, he disagrees with this and wants to keep the integrated Math.

Ted: Interrupts, says basic foundational things are missing from CC. He doesn’t align with all the unpacking comments.

Andre: Integrated Math, not every teacher is prepared to teach this way, flexibility needs to go back to LEA’s, if you can achieve the goal of the standard. What can we do specific to the standards, and how we get there is up to the local ELA.

Ferguson: Keep these standards, clarify them, they are improving scores, the final recommendation focused on missing things, that the unpacking documents address, and these things may spiral through the I II III sequencing.

(Central region input)

Andre: thanks folks for participation.

Jeannie: thanks those here, doesn’t want to lose sight of what the commission is tasked to do, the reports from last month on brain development that should influence every decision. Thanks Ted for work and attitude!

Andre: additional business: Cobey moves to adjourn

North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting Minutes- August 17, 2015

Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting Minutes

August 17, 2015 The Commission’s Web site All past meetings handouts and information.

Roll Call: Present; Bill Cobey, Andre Peek, Jeannie Mefcalf (via phone) Olivia Oxendine, Ann Clark, Jeff Isenhour, Katie Lemons, John Scheik. Executive Assistant Jo Herrera

Absent: Denise Watts, Laurie McCollum

Minutes from July: Motion to accept as written, accepted.

Andre reviews today’s agenda, asks if there are any questions, additions or deletions from agenda.

Ted – asked when the final reports are due.

Andre: Final written reports with Workgroup recommendations are due in December.

Consent for today’s Agenda, motion passed.

Old business:

Jocelyn: Gave a print out of the timeline of commission activities, where we are in general. Today we have a guest speaker and asks if we will have a guest speaker in September. Nothing has changed the last 2 months in the timeline, will always address add ons. She needs to know today, if there will be any more guest speakers requested, so they can maximize the time they have to plan the teacher regional focus groups. The state is separated into named and numbered regions.

Jo has had contact from Central Carolina, they are willing to come to a regularly scheduled ASRC meeting to share their concerns. Regions 4 and 5, representing NW, N Central, and Piedmont Triad area, has been hard to coordinate schedules and there is nothing solidified in those areas.

Jeff:   Mentions region 8 doesn’t feel represented, they are over 6 hours from Raleigh.   Tammy asks Jeff to find someone in that region to act as connection.   Commissioners are making an effort to accommodate these people and be sure everyone has a voice. Willing to explore traveling to that region.

SE region is Tammy’s, there is nothing scheduled so far, but Tammy will help facilitate this. She stated that it is important for everyone to participate and feel they have a voice in recommendations, however you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. All they can do is offer the opportunities, and the decision to come or not is up to them

Olivia: As the representative from the Sandhills, she will facilitate a “natural meeting” that is already scheduled but they will be discussing more than just common core.

Andre: Follow up for Jo, Jeff will call Calloway for effort to organize a meeting. Tammy will facilitate the SE, Sandhills will be handled by Olivia, (Jo shared that Dr. Simeone is excited to get people together, he said he is willing to try to bring folks to our Sept 21 meeting, or maybe skype them from here, ) Andre shared that it would be better to attend the meeting that Olivia is already doing in the Sandhills. Central Carolina is uncertain, Joe has not heard from the Triad People. SW Region, Gaston or Union County will host a meeting, and Ann will facilitate. Jo will continue to help coordination if the commission wants to continue having the Oct 19 board meeting to a region here in Raleigh, or go to a regional meeting.

Andre: these regional meetings are to be sure there is a perspective that represents the citizens of the state, not just in Raleigh. Asks, how can they “live stream” if they go to a regional meeting, outside of this facility.

Andre: continue the meetings here, to be sure we have stakeholders able to hear the live stream.

On the 21st, will invite the regional people here.

Olivia: Asks; when you hear from teachers’ as a way of collecting data, will there be a transcriber, or what method of gathering information from the teachers will be used?

Andre: It will be the responsibility of the commissioners to draft the agenda, the draft reports from the subgroups will be used to inform the discussion for the regional meetings, and then the teachers can react to what they think they are hearing instead of re hashing last year.”

First Presenter:

Tammy introduces Carol Ardizonne: Her Bio online, at the ASRC site. Chairman of Education at the Brookstone School in /Charlotte.

Summary: She has a passion for special needs and at risk students. She shares a disclaimer, her explanation on biology and neuroscience is very simplified and condensed for the presentation today. Standards are good and essential, bad standards are dangerous if not appropriate.

In the 60’s there were ways to identify how the brain learned, and how to teach kids with deficits.

In Charlotte they started a school based on at risk kids with less advantages. Continued her presentation stating; what we don’t know is what neurological brain development they enter school with, what level is the neurological thinking? Their school is now a K-8 school, in existence for 14 years. All of their kids are reading at grade level, at the end of first grade. Kids that are at or below poverty level are typically scoring between 14 and 22 percentile and theirs are scoring between 50 and 80th percentile, they use neurological based learning.

Quick review of the brain. ( Left side controls right side of body, right controls left side of the body. She shows slides of the parts of the brain, and explains how we learn. The Cerebral Cortex (left and right hemispheres) are considered the seat of thinking, memory speech movement and it includes the Frontal lobes that are considered the executive control, deals with planning and thinking, which mature slowly (early adulthood). Its capability to control the excesses of the emotional system are not fully operational during adolescence, often not until mid to late 20’s. The Temporal lobes effect hearing music, memory language. The Occipital Lobes deal with visual processing. The Parietal Lobes deal with spatial orientation, calculation, sensory processing.

Cerebellum: Coordinates movement, connected to regions that perform mental and sensory tasks. Discovered that it is connected to the frontal lobes, so to learn and remember, you can learn better in the frontal lobe. Memory, the brain stores the movements so you can do one thing while the brain is thinking another. Supports cognitive processing.

The Brainstem is the original brain, monitors and controls everything needed for survival. Understanding brain development begins here.

Limbic System: Part that generates emotions, the emotions of learning. The Thalamus, monitors incoming sensory information. The hypothalamus monitors internal systems to maintain normal state of body. The Hippocampus, brings in memories, connects to the storage, and creates meaning. The Amygdala, interactions with emotion, fight or flight. The strongest emotion is fear, it changes things, and can be created by lots of things. Fear is created by more than just a gun, can be thoughts of lack of security, no one can help me, no one understands me. Fear impedes learning. The 2 structures of the brain responsible for the long term remembering are located in the emotional area of the brain, the hippocampus and amygdala.

Positive emotion and negative emotion affect learning. Engage emotions to help learning.

Shared a story of a 9 yr. old, in third grade begins to cry every time Math is mentioned. The total emotional response this child has learned is that every time she hears the word math is to cry, the word generates fear tears, and anxiety.

Shares an example we can understand, a piece of sheet music, how do you teach a kid music, do you take first stanza and break apart? Do it by rote? Keep repeating a small part till you know it all? Providing no foundation at all, teaching this way gives an inability to transfer what you learn, you can’t apply this knowledge to any other piece of music. This method would kill your love for music. To teach this properly, you would begin to teach scales, then show what it looked like as one note, and then repeat, after you learn notes, you have a basic knowledge of notes, and could play more than one song, create positive emotion that would give you a love for music. Learning that can be applied to other applications. Go to the beginning of how you learn to do something.

Carol shared a personal story of her grandkids, 2 yrs. of piano, kids were not real interested, didn’t want to practice or play, then there was a new teaching system introduced to them, and the kids learned to love the music as they learned. Baby steps.

It is important to use insight from neuroscience to improve education. Every kind and type of learning comes from the brain.

All locations of the brain work because of the neurons and glial cells. Every sound or experience that a baby has, everything they feel, connects these cells, as the baby is stimulated, the brain responds. Learning has begun.

From birth to 8, the brain is developing as the cells are stimulated. If you don’t use the connections, they start to drop off.

It is important to get memory in the early brain. We can learn our entire lives, but building the foundation is important to the process as the brain has to be able to receive it. There are windows of opportunity for learning, as the windows close, those opportunities are lost. Motor development (birth till 8), emotional control (birth till 3), vocabulary (before 5), math, logic (by 5), spoken/second language birth to 12. In America today, we don’t start teaching 2nd language till kids are 12, when that window of learning opportunity is closed! The Parents need training on how important this is. Four states are doing this and are seeing great results. How do we translate this process to standards? Blooms Taxonomy:   Create, evaluate, analyze, apply, understand, and remember. (Revised in 2001)

Remember – refers to the mere rote recall and recognition of previously learned material.

Understand – this level describes the ability to make sense of the material and represents the lowest level of comprehension. When a student understands the material, it becomes available for future use to solve problems.

Apply – This level refers to the ability to use learned material in new situations with a minimum of direction. It includes the application of such things as rules, concepts, methods and theories to solve problems.

Analyze – this is the ability to break material into its component parts so that its structure may be understood. It includes identifying parts, examining the relationship of the parts to each other and the whole, and recognizing the organizational principles involved.

Evaluate- deals with the ability to judge the value of material based on specific criteria and standards.

Create- The ability to put parts together to form a plan that is new to the learner. Stresses creativity with major emphasis on forming original patterns or structures.

Review of Piaget theory of cognitive development. Sensorimotor (birth-2) Preoperational (2-6), concrete operational (7-11) formal operational (12)

Grading system at one time was based on how kids learn, and Piaget’s theory.

Examples in common core of age in-appropriate standards Grade 1, standard 5: Know and use various text features, headlines, tables of contents, glossaries, and electronic menus, icons to locate key facts or information in a text. She read the standard, then showed the books that would be typically available in a first grade class, these books do not have tables of contents, or glossaries, so how would this standard be satisfied, it would not be until grade 3 third month that a book with those requirements would be introduced to the students.

Looking at a Math example, grade one, standard 1: “Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.”

Grade 1: “Write an opinion piece in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion and provide some sense of closure.”

At this age and brain development, these kids are not capable of stating or having an “opinion” or know what the expectation of what the word closure means

(Tammy says we have people in the legislature that can’t do that)

Carol stresses the importance of teachers understanding how the brain works and why it works that way, and encourage standards that are appropriate for the ages.

The children master their physical environment and learning to master language. Technological devices interfere with this. Children’s brain development has been diminished by short circuiting their neurological brain development of thinking and organizational skills. She recommends not allowing children to continuously use a computer until they are at least 8 years old.

As a result of this type of teaching and learning, at Brookstone, 6th graders read the Hobbit, and 7th and 8th grades are reading Shakespeare.

Carol states that it is imperative to filter (evaluate) the standards through how the brain develops


Olivia: stated that Carol gave a good presentation and great brain review.   Going back to first grade standard example, is the term rigor and some of the wordiness, an attempt to get and respond to rigor, and what do you really think the standard is asking the student to do? (Referring to the writing standard)

Answer: No, at that age, the children are not capable of an opinion, they are able to tell you what is the name of the story, tell you what it is about, name characters, what they liked the best, but they don’t call it an opinion.

Jeff: has a 6 yr. old. He thinks the key is asking the right questions from the instructional standpoint. The standard is not written for the student to understand, but for the teacher to understand and interpret.

Answer: A child would express their opinion such as, what makes them happy, it is a self-absorbed response, not the analytical definition of opinion piece.

Olivia: standards in Common Core, rigor is overworking the vocabulary to make it look rigorous, and all the verbiage in the standards is going overboard to give the false impression of rigor.

Tammy: States that some standards are structured to arrive at a preconceived conclusion. The answer that is expected to be given, is based on information they already have. If they don’t have other information from which to draw, she has to question if wordiness is intentional.

Andre: Cautions, be careful, Olivia made point, use of word “opinion” Be mindful of who it is written for, it is left up to the teacher to interpret, and to put the right lesson together for the students. We need clear concise standards, not confusing or developmentally in-appropriate.

Katie: Repeats previous statement to filter standards through Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Tammy: Asks, are you saying that the proficiency level and success of your students, working with an at- risk population, is attributed to developmentally appropriate standards, not their wealth, sex, race? Continues her question asking if In her opinion, teachers are not instructed enough in brain function, is that why there is a disconnect? Professional development is wasted if the standards are not appropriate.

Carol Answers: In their school they do brain exercises and there are rote memory skills, the children walk in lines, they are organized in their classrooms, they provide structure. What they do is reworking the brain so learning is more natural.

Tammy: in her opinion, what are long term ramifications of inappropriate age standards?

Carol answers: Frustration in elementary school, dropouts in High School, lack of achievement, drugs etc., kids that are emotionally frustrated does affect the brain. Kids can’t focus. We need to understand how the brain receives information, have teachers understand Bloom’s Taxonomy, to move to higher functioning learning. Rigor is different for a 5 yr. old than a 12 yr. old.

Shares that the Singapore math method is taught at Brookstone. Shares that a student does not move forward until they are proficient, even if they have to move back a grade. Shared an example of a child that was in 3rd grade, not at reading level, so the teacher took them BACK to the child’s reading level and moved forward, and by the end of the year, the child had caught up with their class and reading at grade level.

Cobey: Heard her say that teachers before they go into the classroom, need to understand how the brain works. Sounds reasonable to him, are teachers coming out of schools of education with this knowledge?

Oxendine: She is fascinated by brain. Shared a statement by “Burke”(I didn’t get the first name of this person): that in elementary education, teachers should spend undergraduate time studying child growth development and theory, and it is not happening in college now.

Cobey: States that they (the state board) can influence this process over time, not overnight. Cobey said he had an ah- ha moment, when she spoke about brain development in the first year of life, acknowledging that there can be damage done by abuse and neglect of a newborn that may affect the ability to learn. It is becoming recognized that we have to intervene somehow, in the context of preschool, etc., she says they need programs for the parents! This resonates with him. Wants more information on the parents programs that Carol referenced.

Tammy: States: Government needs to stop interfering with parents and let parents raise their kids. Instead of putting programs in place they need to understand the difference between dependence and control. (And I might add personal responsibility to that list!)

Coby: States: May need to work through nonprofits, work with parents, we are getting students coming to school with deficits, how do we come to get the tools to the parents?

Carol answers: Give a booklet to the parents, work through the churches, work in the neighborhoods, parents need to take the responsibility and to care enough to do for their kids.

Tammy: What was said about the technology piece, our push for the state to go all digital, she thinks it is a mistake, we need to be careful.

Jeff: Shared that the push for technology across the state is because of the disparity between the districts across the state, some places have more than others, be cautious about broad statements about where it is. (He is obviously addressing Tammy) works to bring closure to this conversation, to him, going back to standard example, it has been overwritten. Problems they are facing with Common Core, is that some standards are in the wrong place, some are overwritten, their committee is to make recommendations to fix issues, he cautions, not confuse something that is “hard” to what is “confusing”. (Jeff is a pro Common Core Standards who prefers to “tweak”)

Carol: Shares she has no problem with technology in middle and high school. States again that you should not let kids have computers before they are 8.

Katie: home environment can leave kids with development lags that have to be addressed in schools.


Andre: Work Groups Math and ELA committee reports.

First opportunity to see how the preliminary results look in drafts today. Input from Commissioners will help with the regional focus group meetings that will be held.

Ted’s reports is online:

(The report is very well done, in depth and very critical of Common Core)

Highlights: The analysis of K-8 and High School is separate due to vast differences in the how the standards are written. The group used a matrix to compare Minnesota and Virginia standards along with NC. The group accumulated a set of topics omitted by CCSS math, as well as suggesting additional work that should be included like counting money and making change. The group pointed out numerous typos, undefined terms and mathematical errors in CCSS, listed them. There is great detail on topics poorly done. There is a contrast shown between NC CC math and MN and VA. This section of the report closes with recommendations to the commission. The High School analysis concluded that there are serious deficiencies and they are flawed. They are repeated, creating confusion. There is a defect in the nearly complete absence of examples. Synergy between topics is hard to detect, fragmentation in the sense that teachers hop from topic to topic. No available text book for the “integrated” math approach. They omit standards that had been suggested by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. They feel that geometry is slighted, logic, deductive reasoning and formal proofs have been eliminated in all forms, leaving learning gaps that students will need for higher level courses and college math. In addition, there is a complete absence of matrices anywhere in the standards. Their recommendation is for NC to return to the tradition sequence of Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry, and they defend this recommendation.

Questions: Olivia, why choose MN,

Ted: Answers, Pre Common Core, MN was the only set of standards that met the requirements for National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

Ann: Asks who is on his committee,

Ted:   some of them are current teachers, 2 retired, mostly high school.

Ann: Make sure you hear from teachers K-8, and currently teaching.

Andre: Asks if there was a reduction of the number of standards?

Ted: Answered, I didn’t count the number of standards. Teachers feel the standards were fragmented. Some teachers in Wake were told which standards to omit as they didn’t have time to do all of them. (I think that means teaching to the test)

(The state board members were not happy with that statement, and both were unaware of that practice.)

Jeff: Common Core structure was discombobulated. Many learning gaps and too much fragmentation. He reviewed textbooks for CC, says Algebra, Geometry Textbooks are what is available, not textbooks that are titled “integrated”, math I, Math II.

Andre: If there are opportunities to reduce the number of standards, how would you do that? We need to use the most impactful ones.

Olivia: believes it will be important that a clear statement about integrated math needs to be made, the question comes up often at the State Board, and they are not sure what it means.

Ted: Answers, the practice or the concept? (Of integrated math)

Andre: That would be a curriculum discussion, let’s not lose sight of the underlying standard as you move from topic to topic.

English Language Arts: Full report online

Katie Lemons: giving report for Laurie McCullum: goal is to walk us through what they did to get the report. They revisited Senate bill 812, for what they were charged to do: focus on age level, standards that are understandable, increase student achievement, standards that are high in the nation, and reflect NC priorities. In order to do that, they made a matrix with a variety of state standards. This way all the standards were measured the same way.

Highlights: Reviewed standards from MA, CA. TX, and VA and compared to our NC Common Core using matrix. Shared an example comparison from each state to ours. Shared concerns from teacher survey including, developmental appropriateness, number of standards to cover by the end of a year, multiple tasks embedded within a single standard. Impediments to implementation including lack of textbooks and instructional material aligned with standards, students with learning gaps since standards were not phased I, a need for professional development for the teachers. There is concern about the loss of focus of reading for enjoyment, loss of reading literature in lieu of informational texts, and that the teaching of writing is diminished since it is no longer assessed. Conclusions and recommendations all began with: “Revise the standard, or write new standards” that………..and included topics; Essential goals that can be mastered by students in a 180 day school year, be age appropriate by incorporating a child development expert during writing, need to focus on clarity and detail, reading needs to be based on student’s instructional reading levels, establish concrete minimum goals for each grade, including the amount of reading, establish clear writing goals, establish grade level standards instead of grade level bands at the high school level, align high school English content with the Social Studies curriculum in order to facilitate the teaching of core documents by content experts, establish context and deepen student understanding.

Andre: Statement, if teachers are not able to discern what age appropriate is, then the more a student advances through the grades, the more they drop off. Which says, it is the formative age that would need to be addressed, based on what is not getting done in the earlier grades. We have problems, but don’t have a process that provides a solution.

Jeff: You keep adding to the plate, not taking away from it. Need to remove some initiatives, can’t do everything, and everything well, there is too much.

Andre: We have to move and evolve forward. Consider looking at the lower grades to get it right to reduce the impact of low student performance in high school.

Katie: If kids could read at grade level, it would solve so many problems! Foundational skills needed at the K-3 level.

Tammy: Where in the standards, is research writing addressed, how are they to get technical writing information?

Olivia answers,   in 6th grade, but they write more than just informational text. (I don’t know what this means)

Laurie: Research papers are guided, sometimes only 3 sources are allowed, generally don’t have a full blown research paper till 11th grade.

Tammy: Using only one source, not going outside the one source, limits the writing.   (I think she is referring to the “close reading” and writing where an entire book is not read, just a portion)

Katie: Shares that time limits what can be done, writing is still to be discussed in depth in her group. She feels writing is falling to the wayside, they do more constructed response writing.

Jeff: If writing is added back in, something has to be taken out, you have to have feedback, have time to correct what is wrong, because of Common Core, this is impossible now.

Ann: Agrees, says yes, standards need to be simplified and reduced. Tough decisions have to be made.

Tammy: Writing is a focus on college readiness

Cobey: States: This problem with writing has been going on for decades, our best and brightest still have problems writing, this is not a new problem. (I think that was a sad and telling comment, if he knew this has been going on for so long, why has it not been addressed?)

Katie:   A discussion we need to have, do it right, give it the time it needs.

Ted: Stated: He remembers doing 400 word essay’s once a week when he was in college, that size paper takes less time for the teacher to read and grade. Start with that, something that is small and works up to the larger paper.

Reading K-3 foundational reading skills most important.

Andre: In making recommendations, it is important to assess impact on the state budget and to report that as well. What will be the implementation order? How do we do this with the most bang for the buck right now? What could the state board do right now? What would the roll out look like? How would it be beneficial to the state? How long will it take to implement a new system?

Ann: Give clarity, give timeline, include professional development, leadership directed from who? DPI? Etc. With Common Core implementation, districts began training and not all teachers got training. Be fair to the teachers and the students. Professional development, not just exposure. Push the opportunity to give thought to implementation timelines and cost including professional development.

Andre: All this is theoretical until actions are developed.

Jeff: State board or the General Assembly should ask what is the reasonable expectation, from the teachers and administrators that are actually in the trenches.

Olivia: States that prematurely accepting recommendations from their subgroups will say we want brand new standards, when we may just be making recommendations to the department? (Hugh? I wonder if she is saying that the State Board does NOT have to follow the recommendations of the commission, even if the recommendation is to rewrite the standards. This was a concerning and upsetting statement coming from her.

Ted makes motion to adjourn, Tammy 2nds.

Progress on the North Carolina Eduction Standards

I want to share this great email I got from 
Jerry Egolf on North Carolina Education Standards.

Kim, all,

Yesterday afternoon, Kathy Young, Linda Harper and I joined Dr. Rosemary Stein and Dr. Terry Stoopes for a presentation to the attendees of Camp Liberty, an annual event that Linda chairs at her church. It is a celebration of our traditions of liberty, freedom, the constitution, and preserving those cherished items.

Dr Stein led off with a riveting presentation about how CC has and is adversely affecting young children by using age inappropriate material and curriculum that is not tuned to the age or grade level of our children. She is a noted pediatrician with a background in education. Her presentation was very illuminating as to how badly CC is harming children. It also nicely set the stage for our presentation on the North Carolina Eduction Plan, slightly tweaked for the Christian-based audience.

Terry followed with some personal observations and experiences regarding his own children and their struggles with CC. He added some other observations about the overall process and commented on Dr. Stein’s material. He was humorous at times but effective in what he added to that presented by Dr. Stein.

Next, the three of us presented our material to a primed audience, there were many questions that begged to be asked but put aside until the Q&A period to follow. The folks were very interested in what we had to say. Kathy did her usual great piece of CC math, Linda added some important points about the ELA standards, and I closed it out with some critical thinking points and the summary.

There were many questions about the afternoon’s presentations and all of us had an opportunity to address them on our own area. It was evident that our plan had generated much interest. After the conference had ended, folks followed us around the venue to ask more questions. My heart broke when a lovely teenage girl described how her teacher had given them “porn” to read and discuss. When she confronted her teacher, she was told, “I am your teacher and I will decide what you read and learn.” The Department Head was no better, “freaking out” when they learned that the girl had confronted her teacher.

There were two noteworthy aspects from our presenting at the conference. First, we are now linked to Dr. Stein and her husband. They endorsed what we are doing and believe we are providing an important framework for educating the children of NC. As you are aware, Rosemary is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction next November, replacing June St. Clair Atkinson. She asked to be kept up on our progress and activities and she promised to do likewise. She gave us each a big hug!

Second, someone who I knew nothing about was in the audience and spoke at the close, complimenting Linda and Camp Liberty. He said that he had learned so much and appreciated the presentations. “He” was Senator Louis Pate, Deputy President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate and Wayne County Senator. He told us that we “need” more exposure and that he would arrange for us to brief a select panel of Senators in the near future. He was very complimentary of our work. (One man asked me, “Do you know who he is? I answered that no, I really didn’t. He then took my arm and said, “He is the number two in the Senate. Number two!”)

The Q&A session had to be ended as it ran long and was affecting the children’s portion of the conference. They did a great job of showing the flag and telling everyone about what they had learned about the constitution. It was a lot of fun. Linda is to be congratulated for all of the work that she did. We were all glad we had the chance to be involved in such a cool event.

I will have more to share Monday evening at Hal and Raynor’s but wanted you all to hear about yesterday.

Many blessings to everyone.    Jerry


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