Regarding the Dec. 30 item “Common Core review co-chairwoman dissents”: We applaud the Academic Standards Review Commission decision not to replace the current standards and are committed to join any effort to improve the quality of these standards. Additionally, we have three critical observations in response to the report of the ASRC mathematics working group and the subsequent comments by ASRC Co-Chair Tammy Covil.
▪ Contrary to statements by the mathematics working group and Covil, teachers using the N.C. Standard Course of Study for Mathematics have responded favorably. A summary of 554 K-8 survey responses in their report’s appendix shows that 69 percent of teachers believe that the N.C. Math Standards do not limit their flexibility, 76 percent believe they have appropriate support to teach the standards and 64 percent believe they can translate them into instruction. In a survey conducted by the Department of Public Instruction, 3,069 educator responses to the K-8 surveys indicated that 96 percent of the standards had an approval rating of 80 to 100 percent; of the 923 high school educator responses, 89 percent of the standards had approval ratings above 70 percent. Together, these K-12 data indicate a much wider level of support for the current standards than represented.
▪ The mathematics working group recommended that North Carolina adopt Minnesota’s State Standards, citing results on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress administration. This recommendation lacked sufficient consideration of the differences in the overall economics, demographics and educational histories of the two states, all of which significantly affect student achievement. Though Minnesota’s overall 2015 mean NAEP score for fourth grade was 6 points higher than N.C., black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and students of two or more races in N.C. all outscored their counterparts in Minnesota. Further, North Carolina serves many more children with economic need: 60 percent of N.C. fourth-graders are eligible for subsidized lunch as opposed to 40 percent in Minnesota. Minnesota spent $10,686 per student in the last common reporting period, almost 30 percent more than the $8,306 that N.C. spent. And while Minnesota has been implementing its standards since 2010, N.C. began implementing in 2012. One state cannot simply implement another state’s standards and expect to match its outcomes.
▪ The mathematics working group delivered a report that was confusing, filled with inaccurate descriptions of the standards, and lacked sufficiently rigorous analyses. The group’s proceedings repeatedly exhibited a lack of transparency, an unwillingness to consider multiple points of view and a refusal to allow anyone who did not share their opposition to the Common Core to participate. Their meetings were poorly advertised and did not follow state-mandated open meeting requirements. Finally, Covil’s allegation (mirrored in the working group report) that individuals at DPI are profiting financially from maintaining Common Core is without merit, without documentation and reflects a lack of professionalism.
There is little evidence to suggest that N.C. should abandon its commitment to implementing its standards for mathematics, provided they are periodically and rigorously reviewed and the state devotes resources necessary to implement them successfully.
N.C. State University and member, CCSS National Validation Committee
East Carolina University
Michelle Stephan of UNC Charlotte, Timothy Hendrix of Meredith College and Holt Wilson of UNC Greensboro also contributed. The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.