OC Leaders, Public Debates Use Of Common Core Standards

By Rachel Nash Posted March 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm

As a state-wide debate on the controversial Common Core Standards continues, Orange County state and local leaders believe that the recently adopted system has merit and that both students and teachers need time to adjust to the more rigorous academic goals.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education member, James Barrett, was one of about 50 speakers who shared their opinions about the Common Core Standards during a state legislative committee hearing.

The committee, which began meeting in December, has been charged with tracking and evaluating the progress of the standards in North Carolina classrooms.

“Common Core is a tougher set of standards. It is a set of standards that are needed for our children to succeed in life,” Barrett said.

Already used in 45 states, North Carolina adopted the standards in 2010, though they were fully implemented during the 2012-2013 school year.

Under the Common Cores Standards, school districts and teachers still decide how their curriculum is taught, but with the understanding the material is expected challenge students to develop an in-depth knowledge of key concepts.

State House Representative Graig Meyer, who also serves as the Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the CHCCS, listened on as the public and various groups shared a wide range of viewpoints during the committee meeting.

One private educator called the Common Cores Standards “insidious.”

“We heard a lot of opinions about the Common Core today. Unfortunately, a number of them were strongly ideological in nature. We really need to approach the Common Core as a practical issue about what are the best standards and how do we provide the best education for students. I really get disappointed when educational debates get caught up in political ideology,” Meyer said.

When CHCCS released the Common Core Standard test results last fall, district leaders warned that the numbers would not be good. Officials said students and teachers needed time to transition to the new system.

“We have to find a way to provide teachers with the time to be able to learn the new standards and to plan the curriculum that they want to choose to use in their classrooms to help students meet those standards,” Meyer said.

Barrett suggested that school districts take a year off from the most rigorous testing.

“That pressure to just do well on a multiple choice test is detrimental to our students’ learning,” he said. “I think one of the things we could do is to say, ‘You know what—we are in the middle of this. It is a transition, and we need to take a pause on some of the testing.”

Barrett said he believes that Common Core helps ready students for college and beyond, which he said aligns with the practices that CHCCS Superintendent Tom Forcella and the district try to achieve in their classrooms.

“Regardless of whether Common Core is here or not, these are changes that we do, as a District, believe in and that we need to be moving forward with,” Barrett said.

Opponents of the standards have argued that the transition timeline has moved too quickly and that teachers need more training to instruct under the new system. Others have said that it is a form Federalism that gives the U.S. government too much say-so.

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