Under the Dome

NC Commission says Common Core leaving some students behind

Updated to include link for new website for the Academic Standards Review Commission. It’s http://www.doa.nc.gov/asrc/ .

Charges that the current academic standards are unrealistic, geared too much toward high-achieving students and are leaving some kids behind were repeatedly mentioned Monday by members of a state commission helping to develop a replacement to the Common Core.

Members of the Academic Standards Review Commission walked a fine line on Monday by simultaneously criticizing the current math and English language arts standards and saying they didn’t want to lower the bar for the state’s public schools. But Monday’s comments gave hints on what they may recommend to the State Board of Education next year.

Monday’s meeting opened with commission members sharing their goals and priorities.

Laurie McCollum, a Rockingham County middle school assistant principal, referenced a January 2014 Huffington Post interview of Louisa Moats, one of the writers of the Common Core. Moats said in the interview that the Common Core’s “lofty standards are appropriate for the most academically able.”

“I worry that we may leave some kids behind if we interpret the standards the way that they’re represented in Appendix B of the Common Core State Standards,” said McCuollum, a Senate appointee to the commission.

Katie Lemons, a Stokes County high school teacher, said she was echoing McCullom’s concerns.

“The Common Core standards are in language very much geared to a highest level student,” said Lemons, a House appointee. “I see a lot of my students being left behind because of that.

As a classroom teacher, I find it very, very difficult sometimes to meet the needs of the students who are at the level of the standards as they are written and yet still have the time and the ability and the resources to differentiate and do the small groups to remediate those who do not have the skills that are necessary or who are not at the reading level to meet those skills.”

John Scheick, a retired university math professor now living in Raleigh, said “the tone of what I can gather from the English standards was certainly very high and very optimistic for our students.”

Scheick cited the example of a student who told a teacher friend of his that after graduation she wanted to work at Duke Hospital hanging linens. While the student may have been kidding, Scheick said there are people like that.

“To hold them to the same standards that you would hold college-bound students to, to me doesn’t seem to be a good thing for those students,” said Scheick, a Senate appointee. “You should have some way to do good things for all students and not hold them all to a too-high standard.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Tammy Covil, a New Hanover County school board member, touched on how some commission members had said that some Common Core standards are not age appropriate.

“When you look at the volume of information that you have in front of us, it’s not just is this developmentally appropriate or not,” said Covil, a House appointee. “Is this achievable for the vast majority of students?

I see this as more geared toward our higher level students. I see them being able to learn at this level. But those students who are average to below-average will never achieve this.”

Commission co-chair Jeannie Metcalf, a Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board member, said students have different ability levels.

“All kids are different,” said Metcalf, a Senate appointee. “They’re not common. They’re different. They may work in a barber shop. They may not be able to achieve some of these higher level expectations.”

“We need to take a child’s potential and help that child reach the potential and every child has a different potential,” Metcalf also said. “What we’re trying to create is say every child has the same potential and I disagree. Throw apples at me or rotten tomatoes. This doesn’t mean that they’re not good kids.”

Shortly before the meeting ended, co-chair Andre Peek, an IBM sales executive from Raleigh appointed by the governor, announced that the commission had a new website. He didn’t immediately have the url available. But you can go to http://www.doa.nc.gov/asrc/ to view the website.