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.


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