If you thought the debate over Common Core Standards was over; think again. It may be only starting – again.
Earlier this week, the State Board of Education adopted proposed changes to three math courses Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra I, now known as Math 1, Math 2 and Math 3. The changes were made to reorder and clarify the standards taught in math courses. No doubt they were also made in response to the strong criticism the math standards received from parents and teachers about “integrated math” one of the most highly criticized elements of the math standards.
Proponents say integrated math better prepares students to solve real-world problems. Critics say integrated math has been a nightmare for parents and students because it assumes students have a knowledge and familiarity with topics that they frequently don’t possess. Preliminary recommendations from Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) favored scuttling integrated math in favor of the Minnesota Math standards — but to the surprise of many — that recomendation was not in the ASRC’s final report. Many of the changes adopted by the board are consistent recommendations made in the ASRC final report. Interestingly, The Department of Public Instruction does also say that the changes adopted by SBE are consistent with the feedback they have received from teachers and others. Yes, I find it hard to believe too. Of course if you do believe it, you have to ask: why weren’t the changes made four years ago?
But back to the vote. At the same time that the State Board of Education was reviewing these proposals, a Senate committee was re-writing HB 657 – a bill calling on UNC to study the concept of fixed tuition – and adding a provision to require high schools to teach math in the same way they did prior to the implementation of the Common Core standards; that is with the sequence Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra II.
Coincidence? No, you might say it was intentional. Sen. Jerry Tillman, one of the Senators behind the revision and an outspoken critic of the Common Core Standards told the News and Observer, the change was intended as a very clear signal to the State Board of Education “that we don’t need to progress down that path any further.”
The Senate has not voted on the bill. But the scenarios reflect the emerging battlelines over academic standards and how subjects are taught – the exact issues that the Academic Standards Review Commission was tasked with resolving.