Yesterday the Senate passed legislation (HB 657) that allows high school students to choose either the current integrated math sequence based on the common core math standards or the traditional sequence of mathematics courses (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II) that schools offered prior to the implementation of Common Core. After a technical correction to one of the amendments, the bill will go back to the House. This is good news for conservatives since – beginning in 2017-18 – parents and children who found Common Core not to their liking, will have the opportunity to choose other courses.
What conservatives won’t be so thrilled about is that the same legislation also calls on the State Board of Education to conduct “a comprehensive review of the North Carolina Mathematics Standards Course of Study for grades kindergarten through grade 12.” The revised curriculum along with assessments are to be implemented beginning in the 2018-19 school year.
If that all sounds familiar, it should. It was the same task the legislature tasked to the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC). As was the case with ASRC, provisions say that standards are expected to be: rigorous, increase student’s level of academic achievement, age level and developmentally appropriate, understandable to teachers and parents and among some of the highest in the nation. For whatever reason that didn’t happen with the ASRC. At the final meeting of the ASRC, recommendations were adopted that seemed to be at odds with the direction and tenor of much of the Commission’s work. I’m still waiting for someone to tell the story of what happened at the December 2015 meeting. But that’s another story.
The real question is: If the bill is passed by the House and signed by the Governor, can we expect the State Board of Education to revise the current math standards and develop standards that satisfy these criteria? Considering the board’s embrace of Common Core, conservatives have plenty of reasons to be concerned. There is more work ahead.