Opposing forces weigh in on Common Core

Math teachers and university professors are challenging changes recommended for public school math classes that a state commission is preparing to bring to a vote next month.

The N.C. Council of Teachers of Mathematics board of directors supports Common Core math and wants the commission reviewing the goals for what students should know in math and English language arts to recommend keeping it.

“Making a change to the standards now will undermine the great work that so many teachers, administrators, and others have done to prepare to teach to these college and career ready standards and the considerable progress students have made,” the board said in a statement. “Our teachers and students deserve the opportunity to have sufficient time for implementation and evaluation of the current standards before major revisions are considered.”

The Academic Standards Review Commission, created by the legislature, is set to complete its recommendations for changes to math and English language arts by the end of this year.

A draft recommendation for the math goals would make wholesale changes to math education. Suggestions are to dump the math standards for kindergarten through eighth grade and replace them with Minnesota’s plan, because it meets guidelines set out by a 2008 national math advisory panel.

Commission members are also considering unraveling the three integrated high school math courses and returning to having two algebra courses and one geometry course.

The standards commission discussed the math council’s report at its meeting Friday. John T. “Ted” Scheick, who led the commission’s math review, said he corrected one error after reading the council’s 10-page commentary.

“I think there are plenty of arguable points – philosophical, arguable points,” he said.

The commission’s recommendations will go to the legislature and the State Board of Education. The State Board has final approval over what standards public schools use.

While Common Core supporters are becoming more vocal – a petition to keep Common Core math was circulated at a math teachers’ convention last week in Greensboro – Common Core opponents have been working for more than a year to get the standards thrown out.

The legislature formed the commission because of the conservative push to repeal the standards.

Rep. Larry Pittman is a Cabarrus County Republican who has attended most of the standards commission meetings. Pittman, one of the legislature’s more conservative members, told the commission Friday that he and Republican Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern pushed to get the commission. Pittman gave the group a written suggestion on how its report should be structured that said the report should conclude with the recommendation to replace Common Core, not “rebranding, ‘tweaking,’ or rewriting” it.

The commission asked pointed questions of state Department of Public Instruction staff about standardized test results. Eighth grade math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, dropped in the state this year. Nationally, NAEP math scores dropped on fourth and eighth grade tests.

Commission members asked DPI to provide information on how classes perform on state tests year after year.

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner