- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - When changes to Common Core standards are finalized in North Carolina, classrooms will need to receive updated books and schools will need money to hire enough teachers, a subcommittee said Monday.

The Academic Standards Review Commission released draft reports on how to revise math and the English language lessons. The GOP-led General Assembly created the commission last year after complaints by tea party Republicans said Common Core amounted to a federal takeover of education while some parents and teachers said it was poorly thought out. Business leaders countered that the standards improve education and make North Carolina competitive.

After revisions are made, schools will need money for teaching materials, including textbooks, and enough teachers and teaching assistants, a committee that reviewed the English standards said.

Legislative critics argue limited spending growth on public schools has left classrooms without enough textbooks and teachers. The state Senate has proposed cutting funding for teaching assistants by $300 million over the next two years, or the equivalent of at least 8,500 jobs, and using that money to hire 3,300 teachers in early grades.

The commission’s English language working group also said there should be summer schools for students at every grade who need help catching up. Legislators required that third-graders should read well before advancing to fourth grade, which includes optional summer reading camps.

“While teachers expect to provide some differentiation to students within a class, having students arrive with wide learning gaps who are also expected to learn and master too many standards is not leading to student success,” the group’s interim report said.

Both math and English standards should focus on making learning targets clearer and more specific, the reports said.

The elementary and middle-school math curricula now do a poor job with fractions. Middle-school lessons struggle with probability and statistics, and measuring length, weight, mass and volume, the math study group said. High schools should revert to a sequence of courses for Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra 2 and scrap the Common Core 1 through 3 math courses, the report said.

“The focus of K-8 instruction should be to develop the basic math skills needed for high school and college. It is good to understand concepts, but the goal should be rapid and accurate computation,” the report said. “There are simply too many unidentified prerequisite skills to be covered in the allotted class time. The obvious ripple effect is less critical thinking and a weaker command of the basic skills needed to succeed.”

The 11-member Common Core review panel was created last summer with directions to recommend updated standards for the State Board of Education to consider. The commission’s final recommendations are expected in December.


Emery Dalesio can be reached at https://twitter.com/emerydalesio

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