Category Archives: NC State Education

Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting

6 April 15

This was a very interesting meeting especially in that CCTA held a “Protest Demonstration” with signs and the whole bit on the street outside the County Administration Building before the meeting. The number of CCTA members participating was especially gratifying in light of the fact that it was Easter Monday, a lot of our members were spending time with family, and many were traveling to spend the holiday out of town.

Kathryn Blankley, Connie Hanna, Bill Poole, Nan Murdoch, Kim and Glenn Fink, Brad and Doris Cummings, Raynor and I (Hal) participated. Several of us had colorful signs.  Bill Poole’s said , “We the People CONSENT to Open Government” which I thought was cleaver.  Most of us took a negative approach as in “NO CONSENT AGENDA, please!”

We had conversations with folks in cars who pulled over to talk to us and with pedestrians who stopped to talk.  A high point was when Commissioner Steve Tyson stopped to discuss our concerns with us and promised to try to alleviate some of them.

During the “Public Hearings” phase of the Commissioners’ meeting, I was the only member of the public who spoke. The hearings were on proposed changes to the Craven County Code of Ordinances. These ordinances concerned things like the Board of Adjustment to the Marine Corps Air Station Zoning Ordinance.  It was fairly complex, and would require a lot of study to really be familiar with them.  Another example is the proposed amendments to the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport Zoning and Height Control Ordinance.  I thought sure General Tom Braaten would be there to explain, but he wasn’t.  County Attorney, Jimmie Hicks, explained that these were routine changes required by changes by the General Assembly to state statutes. The last part of the proposed ordinance changes concerned “off premises” signs. I did not object to the content of any of these proposed changes, just that no one (including “stakeholders” and Commissioners) had had a real opportunity to study them. After all, last night’s agenda was 3/4 of an inch thick when printed on one side of each sheet of paper, and most of it was in small print. In addition, these proposed changes are complex and far reaching.  They will affect local businesses and the military (Craven County’s largest employer).  Thankfully, the Board took no action last night on these proposed changes so there is time for real study.

Next came the Petitions of Citizens. Several people spoke on noise problems, but Josh Humphrey gave an excellent petition on the ineffectiveness of the more than a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayer money the Board has spent on the US 17 Corridor Commission with no benefit to Craven citizens.   He closed by saying we had gotten nothing from the Commission and it was time they got nothing from us!  Well done, Josh.

Raynor petitioned against returning to the use of a “consent agenda.” She said that a tenant that had been repeated to her many times while she was growing up was “to not only avoid evil, but also to avoid the appearance of evil.”

She confessed that it had annoyed her (especially during her teen years) because she found it hard enough to keep herself straight.  Doing that, plus worrying about what other people might be thinking about it, seemed like too much to ask.

As she got older, and hopefully wiser, she realized that a lot of her teenage scrapes and misunderstandings had come about because she hadn’t tried to avoid the appearance of evil; she just hadn’t given it any thought at all.

She reminded the commissioners that they’d said they didn’t want to use the consent agenda to hide anything or do anything underhanded.  She said, “I believe you.  But if you care what your constituents think, consider what they’re exposed to all day.  What they see in the newspapers.  Read on blogs.  Hear on the radio, and see on TV.  They see and hear case after case of ‘public servants’ doing bad things.  Like Harry Reid’s saying, ‘He didn’t get elected, did he?’ when he was questioned about what he’d said untruthfully on the Senate floor.

Raynor closed by pointing out that, when you have the ability to do wrong and don’t avoid not only evil but also the appearance of evil, you might not be making the best choice.  She asked that the commissioners not go back to the use of a consent agenda.

Kim Fink spoke on some things going on in education in Craven County that the Commissioners need to be aware of. The Commissioners were very attentive to her petition, and I believe, would like to hear more. Kim told about the resistance of the education professionals to the implementation of the Founding Principals Act.  Because of this, the General Assembly is considering requiring students take a test on the same historical and civics facts about our county as immigrants are required to know to gain citizenship.  Kim made it clear that the resistance she talked about is taking place at both the state and local levels.

Kim also mentioned that there is a bill proposal before the General Assembly which would make June Atkinson, PhD, Superintendent of Public Instruction, a voting member of the State Board of Education, and would make her the Board’s Chief Administrative Officer.  She is presently on the Board, but does not have a vote.  This change would be most unwise as she seems to be a primary reason for resistance to implementing The Founding Principles Act.

Legislation has also been introduced that would make the Superintendent of Public Instruction appointed instead of elected by the people. CCTA opposes this as well.  We don’t like much of what June Atkinson does, but at least we the people can “hire” someone we think will do a better job at the next election.

Kim also asked the Board of Commissioners to support our request that the Craven County Board of Education members be elected the same way other officials of Craven County are elected. That is only by voters who live in the district they serve.  (Board of Education members are currently elected county-wide in the general election.)  Kim related how the idea for a change in election method had been rejected by the school board, and in doing so, they stated that election county-wide gave them more validity in making decisions for the whole county.  Kim said that should feel like a smack in the face to the Board of Commissioners by insinuating that they don’t have validity in working on behalf of the entire county because they represent the special interests of their respective Districts.  She stated CCTA’s position that this is a fallacy, and it will be better if both boards are elected by district.

Glenn Fink spoke against the consent agenda. He wisely acknowledged and showed appreciation for the facts that the Board has been very helpful in providing budget and other financial information on the county website, and facilitating the ability of citizens to petition the Board after the agenda is made available on the website.  Glenn, like Raynor, expressed concern that adopting a consent agenda would be a big step backward in conducting open meetings.  He asked the Board to look at the Board of Education meetings for a prime example of how a consent agenda can be abused such that citizens in attendance at their meetings hear no discussion of anything substantive about education in our school system. The citizens have no insight as to how the people’s business in education is being handled.  It is cloaked in obscurity.

Glenn also spoke against the County owned in-patient hospice being considered by the Commissioners.  He said he’s afraid that county staff time is being spent on it, but that the whole idea of government intrusion into a medical service that private practices can and should provide should be rejected.


I petitioned that our desire to have open meetings is at the heart of our objections to returning to the use of consent agendas. I again pointed out the simplicity of the NC General Statutes on meetings of public bodies and the equal simplicity of the Attorney General’s Guide to Open Government and Public Records.  I suggested that the Board compare that to the complexity of the agenda for this meeting.  An agenda of that size and complexity being available at 10:00 a.m. on Friday before an Easter Monday meeting of the Board is way too much for the citizens or the Commissioners to study in preparation for the meeting.


I also mentioned that the agenda contained a report on the security concerns at the Social Services building.  This has been a hot topic at many previous board meetings, and the report was being presented at a time that many people would not be able to attend the meeting because of the Easter family holiday. That seems like poor timing if the Board really wants public participation on this matter.


Simply put, open meetings are very difficult to achieve because county staff overloads the Commissioners as well as the public with government intrusion.


In spite of that, this report can end on a cheerful note.  The Board voted to remove the most egregious part of the proposal that says they may have consent agendas.


Although there were limitations on what can be in a consent agenda, there was a provision that would have allowed anything the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners or the County Manager (who is unelected) wanted included.  Steve Tyson said he was uncomfortable with it (bless him), and the commissioners voted to REMOVE this provision before approving the permissible use of consent agendas.


Respectfully submitted,

Hal James

CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman


The North Carolina Plan

The North Carolina Plan

Learn more about replacing Common Core with the North Carolina Plan at our Special Meeting on March 7th.

600_433904255 Visit our Home Page for details.

CCTA Vice Chair, Glenn Fink, on Public Education in NC and Craven County

Glenn Fink went into the LION’s DEN and made this talk to the Craven County Board of Education a few days ago…

I am Glenn Fink, an active member of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, or CCTA.  CCTA recently established a formal Legislative Action Committee on which my wife, Kim, and I both serve.  Our Legislative Action Committee has identified priority items to work on, and several relate to public education.  They are as follows:

(1) Get rid of Common Core,

(2) Have HB588, the Founding Principals Act, enforced,

(3)Have Advanced Placement U.S. History taught to reflect the truth, not full of anti-American bias, and

(4) Have local Board of Education members elected by the districts they serve, not county wide.

In the last few weeks, we have met with all the General Assembly members that represent Craven County, and shared all of our priorities. Somehow, the item about how our Board of Education is elected made front page news on Wednesday.  I attended all the meetings with our local legislators including the one with the representative mentioned in the article, but my wife, also referenced in the article, was not even in attendance at this last meeting. The whole objective of this item is to help ensure the voice and will of the people is heard in the most direct and efficient manner.

The Board of Education members are elected, and by the very nature of that process, serve at the will of the people they represent, their constituents. The more the elected leadership process is moved away from “local” representation (being their district) to a larger constituent group (being the county), the less the voice of the people is heard.

This is the case with our current method. Based on my experience, the Board members seem to report to, and act accountable to, the Board Chairman. This seems reinforced by comments in the article by the Chairman that school board members plan to push back and possibly with a resolution at the Board’s meeting today. I have to question whether the members’ perspectives were even known when that statement was made.  In addition, there is the apparent official position of limiting an individual board member’s access to groups who have concerns.

The lowered voice of the people seems to be reinforced by comments in the article such as, “It has served us well,” and “We are very much in favor of how our elections are established.”  This sounds like it’s all about meeting the Board’s needs versus the needs of the citizens and their children. This concern is further reinforced by the Elections Director’s stating in the article that she doesn’t think all Craven County voters are aware of how the current election method works. Her review of the election data shows that there is only a small vote countywide in those areas.

There is something refreshing from this series of events. We got a timely direct response to our concern by the Chairman who appeared to be speaking for the whole Board. The concerning part is the topic that got an immediate response was not related to questions we’ve raised about the quality of the education process for the students of our county, but rather about a procedure that may impact Board members personally, but cloaked under the guise of, “It won’t be as good for the county.”

On a totally unrelated topic, the recent state wide school grading results are amazing.  You just cannot make this stuff up!  Only in the public school system is there a grading scale where you must be below 40% to receive a failing grade.  I know this is not a Craven County deal.  It is statewide, but it reinforces the mentality of NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) leadership, and the need for Local Education Agencies (LEA)’s to stand up for what they believe is right.

Academic Standards Review Commission Report 2-16-2015

Due to the threat of inclement weather, the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) met via conference call on February 16th, and the meeting time was shortened.

The first order of business was to elect a new co-chair due to the resignation of Jennie Metcalf. Tammy Covil of New Hanover County was elected as her replacement. Mrs. Metcalf will still serve on the commission.

The legislative update to the commission included information on the funding by the General Assembly and the process of hiring 2 staff members to help the commission in their duties. The funding bill has been presented to the legislature.  In the meantime, funding is through Administration.

The work groups presented different timelines that have been aligned to meet the goals of the commission. This will be the framework moving forward.

Dr. Oxendine is a member of the State Board of Education Task Force on Summative Assessment as well as a member of this commission. Dr. Oxendine gave a presentation on what is being considered for assessing NC students following the Review Commission’s recommendations as part of the charge given this commission by the General Assembly in House Bill 812 last year. There will be an opportunity during next month’s ASRC meeting to ask further questions for clarification.

Dr. Rebecca Blessing from Kentucky joined the conversation to share her state’s experience in the review process of Common Core. This was for all intents and purposes a sales job for Common Core and reiterated many of the Department of Public Instruction’s talking points. There was to have been a testimony from an early childhood development professional, but this was delayed because of the shortened time of the meeting.

There was some debate on the direction math should go, whether to continue with the new Integrated Math, or return to the traditional teaching track. Most of the commission is in favor of returning to the old way or at least letting the local schools choose for themselves. No consensus was reached; however, several members of the commission were given tasks to bring information to the next meeting for further discussion.

In a quick wrap up on moving forward, Co Chair Andre Peek said they need to get started on their recommendations on the changes for individual standards and whether to keep them, change them, or toss them. This comment brought objections from Jennie Metcalf who stated again that Senator Tillman told them not to use Common Core, so what standards were they to review?  Mr. Peek answered that they are to review the current standards and recommend changes.  Because of this exchange, it is clear to me that this commission still doesn’t know what kind of latitude they have.  Are they replacing, repairing, or removing?  Obviously whatever is recommended has to be approved by the State Board and satisfy the General Assembly.

Respectfully submitted,


Kim Fink

CCTA Public Education Committee Chair

1-16-2015 NC Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC)

1-16-2015 NC Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC)

The ASRC met on January 16 in the board room at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). This is the first time that the meeting was live streamed, so hopefully there were many that listened to the meeting. Apparently there was no way for live streaming from the Administration building’s board room.

Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association had 7 members in attendance.  Representative Michael Speciale and Rep. Larry Pittman were there as well.

The agenda and some of the presentations had been posted on the ARSC website prior to the meeting. There were several presentations that were not on the website, but we were told they will be in a few days. The agenda was reorganized as some of the commission members were on conference call and would have to leave the meeting early.

Co-Chairman, Andre Peek, opened the meeting sharing the latest news on the Commission’s present state regarding budget and staffing.  Funding has been promised by Senator Tillman. The requested budget is $250,000. Until there is a budget in place, per diem costs are being covered by Administration. Lack of funding has held the commission up in regard to bringing in content experts.

There are staffing issues that need to be addressed as well to fulfill the duties of the commission.

Mr. Peek recommended 3 positions be filled.  They are an executive administrative assistant, an editorial assistant, and a policy analyst. These positions are anticipated to be 30 hour a week positions. Job descriptions (loose) are on the ARSC web page. To date, the commission has been leveraging existing Administration staff for their needs, and it recognizes this as an imposition on Administration. The activities required to staff proposed positions would be: funding, resumes, interviews, and candidates presented to the commission prior to any job offer. The positions would be filled using the State Human Resources process. After much discussion, it was decided that the role of policy analyst could be tabled, and filled at a later date if needed. The general consensus was that a policy analyst might try to steer the commission’s direction instead of their remaining independent. They feel they are fully capable of producing their own reports. The commission agreed to staff the administrative assistant and editorial assistant positions when funding was available.

The commission had identified 3 work groups to report for the January meeting.  The subject matter for the work groups includes Developmentally Appropriate, Teacher Flexibility, and Standard Simplification.

Presentation I: Developmental Appropriateness

Ms. Oxendine and Mr. Isenhour have been working together on the Developmental Appropriateness issue that exists in Common Core. Their report was not available prior to the meeting, and no extra copies existed for the audience. They used data from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) that addresses changes in the standards as they now exist.

It was suggested that they move back to traditional sequencing in Math, and reference was made to a chart we didn’t have access to.  Ms. Oxendine indicated that the English Language Arts standards could be rewritten easily, that concepts and principles could stay the same, that you could build in anything that was missing, and agreed to produce a set of examples by the next meeting.

Dr. Scheik mentioned 5 states that have totally re- done the math standards. They all agreed that you can’t make a decision based on one survey from Developmentally Appropriate Practice theory (D.A.P).  They need more data points and more teacher and parent input.


Ms. Oxendine indicated that there needs to be a definition of what is developmentally appropriate, there are opinions from renowned psychologists and  early child development experts such as Piaget and the D. A. P. theory.  Dr. Scheik said that none of the revised math standards resembled Common Core at all except for the order of the topics.
Presentation II: Ms. Katie Cornetto, staff attorney for DPI.

Ms. Cornetto stated that she had given a written opinion to the ARSC (not on the website, no additional copies available to us) indicating that NC had a public license that allows anyone to use it in part or in whole so long as attribution is made. There was much discussion about the actual wording in the license, which asserts this use is only agreeable if one is “supporting the Common Core States Standards Initiative” which NC is not doing anymore.

Ms. Covil was adamant that without a waiver, the state could be open to a copyright violation suit. Ms. Covil has requested a waiver from DPI superintendent, Dr. June Atkinson, who is the acting President of one of the two organizations that hold the copyright, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). To date, there has been no compliance with this request. Co-Chair Metcalf agreed that the state needs to be legally protected. State Board of Education Chairman, Bill Cobey, said he didn’t believe the CCSSO would sue a member state, that his name would be on such a suit if it were brought, and he was willing to take that chance.Tammy Covil read a section of the public license for Common Core that mentions obtaining a waiver.  The text she read follows. “No term or provision of this license shall be deemed waived and no breach consented to unless such waiver or consent shall be in writing and signed by authorized representatives of NGA Center and CCSSO.”

Co-Chair Peek asked Ms. Cornetto to see if she could obtain such waiver.  Ms. Covil indicated that she has also asked for the contractual documentation for NC using Common Core, and was only given a copy of the Public License.

Representative Michael Speciale addressed the commission, and stated that during the Legislative Research Committee meetings, Dr. Atkinson told them that changes could not be made to the Common Core, but that an additional 15% of content could be added.

Rep. Speciale also stated that they didn’t want a rebrand; they want something that is uniquely North Carolina’s. (Paraphrasing)

Rep. Larry Pittman followed up and indicated that if there were a rebrand, there would be further legislation to fill the intent of the bill. (Paraphrasing)
Presentation III: Tammy Covil and Dr. Ted Scheik

This presentation was an updated timeline for implementation of the commission goals, and was available on the ASRC website. This timeline recommended requesting an extension of time because of the delay in funding allowing for proper completion of the charged tasks.

The focus of this presentation was in 3 areas.  They were Standards Simplification, Age/Developmental Appropriateness, and Teacher Flexibility.

Ms. Covil also reviewed the task of the commission by reading the text that follows.
“SECTION 2.(c) The Commission shall:
(1) Conduct a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education under G.S. 115C-12(9c) and propose modifications to ensure that those standards meet all of the following criteria:
a. Increase students’ level of academic achievement.
b. Meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities.
c. Are age-level and developmentally appropriate.
d. Are understandable to parents and teachers.
e. Are among the highest standards in the nation.

“(2) As soon as practicable upon convening, and at any time prior to termination, recommend changes and modifications to these academic standards to the State Board of Education.

“(3) Recommend to the State Board of Education assessments aligned to proposed changes and modifications that would also reduce the number of high-stakes assessments administered to public schools.

“(4) Consider the impact on educators, including the need for professional development, when making any of the recommendations required in this section.

The Commission shall assemble content experts to assist it in evaluating the rigor of academic standards. The Commission shall also involve interested stakeholders in this process and otherwise ensure that the process is transparent.”

That text is where a lot of the discussion that followed came from.  Questions arose as to whether the charge was to review and modify the Common Core, as those ARE the standards in place, OR do they agree to throw out the core in its entirety and begin from scratch?

Mr. Isenhour felt that they needed to start with what is already in place, taking into account the number of years already in place, as well as professional development and the money already spent on this set of standards. Ms. Covil asked him if he was saying we should stay on the same road, even if it is the wrong road. He said that there needed to be modifications, like in teacher flexibility. He is in favor of traditional Algebra sequences, but said the current written standards are okay, but he just wants to align the sequencing in a more traditional manner.  Modify.

Argument ensued regarding consequences of changes, time, professional development, cost, administrative issues, etc. Mr. Isenhour also said he felt it wasn’t fair to teachers to have a new system thrown out at them.

Co-Chair Metcalf responded that North Carolina has traditionally evaluated and made changes or modifications in standards every 5 years, and we are already 3 years into Common Core, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. In addition, Common Core was implemented all at once, no piloting, and no vetting by teachers or parents.  It was done in the “dark of night behind closed doors”.  She also said that they would not be dealing with this problem if there had been involvement by stakeholders prior to the all at once implementation of Common Core.  She reminded the audience that we got 44 million dollars from the Federal Government.

Co-Chair Peek chimed in with the statement that as a starting point, the understanding is that Common Core is suspended in North Carolina, and to start to base standards on North Carolina needs being mindful that we don’t want Federal Education. He said we need to pick a reasonable starting point. He also seemed ready to put forth a suggestion to the Department of Public Instruction to return to traditional math, and do away with the integrated Math, (Math I, 2,3), or to at least make that a decision for the Local Education Agencies (LEAs) . Ms. Metcalf seemed to think it was too late to do that because the kids have already picked classes for next year.

Ms. Covil asserted that all that has been done so far is remove the name Common Core, and said that what is in place and being used now is Common Core. Ms. Covil and Dr Scheik seem to want to move totally apart from any resemblance to Common Core. Ms. Covil reiterated that if what remains is still Common Core, we are still in jeopardy of being sued.

Presentation IV: DPI Dr. Robin McCoy

Dr. McCoy explained that there were 8,703 people who responded to their online survey, explaining how the results were tabulated regarding how many people responded to a particular standard, how many skipped it. The 2 color chart indicated whether a standard was fine as written, or needed to be revised. She shared that this is just one data point, and said that there were opportunities after each section for written comment by the responders that has not been analyzed yet.

Ms. Metcalf requested that the raw data be supplied to the commission, including the written comments. The DPI teacher survey was noted to have had no identifiers as to who was taking the survey, or whether they taught the grade or course they were answering the survey on. It was mentioned that this was nonscientific and should not be considered representative of the 95,000 teachers in the state.

The validity of the survey was questioned by several members of the commission. Dr. McCoy asked if just because there was not a large number of teachers responding, does that make their data less credible? She said their job was to see if a standard needs to be revised.

Dr. McCoy said there had been 8 focus groups throughout the state that coincided with the survey. Mr. Peek asked what DPI’s next step is. The answer was to look at the data and review it with a group of content specialists to determine what if any of the standards needs to be addressed. She stated that DPI’s intent is to make everything as good as possible.

Presentation V: Katie Lemons, Teacher Flexibility

This report was available prior to the meeting on the ARSC website. The main areas of concern were that the standards are rigid and they need clarity.  The quantity and depth of content, developmental appropriateness, and the assessments were all also mentioned in her report. Ms. Lemons shared that to effectively teach children who arrive with different levels of learning, a teacher requires the flexibility to teach each child beginning where he/she is in the learning process.  She continued by saying how difficult it can be if the teacher has to decide to educate the child from where they are, or to rigidly stick with the standard, knowing they are leaving the child behind, but also knowing THEY (teachers) are being assessed on the classroom assessment outcomes.

Next Steps:

There are 3 work groups, Simplification, Flexibility, and Developmental Appropriateness. Each group presented a timeline with their presentation on next steps. These will be integrated at some point.

Ms. Covil has been in touch with content experts in Math and English Language Arts (ELA).  They are Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram who were both part of the Common Core validation Committee, and both of them refused to sign off on the standards. These two Professors have tentatively agreed to come to the March Commission meeting.  Both of these experts are aware that the intent of the ASRC is to move forward, not rehash the problems of Common Core. One other content specialist, Dr. Megan Koschnick, a child clinical psychologist, is willing to conference call into the February ASRC meeting. The commission agreed to move forward on all 3 of these suggestions.

Dr Scheik wants to include community college teachers as well as 4 year college professors in discussions on math gaps that exist as evidenced by the number of students having to take remedial math classes after they graduate High School.

There was some discussion on the ASRC website’s being more visible on the DPI website.

Co Chairs Peek and Metcalf commented that the two of them needed to speak to Dr. Atkinson about the copyright waiver.
Go here for the links to the presentations as well as the DPI Survey results.
Kim Fink
CCTA Public Education Chairman
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