Panel starts reviewing Common Core standards in NC



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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A commission on Monday will begin reviewing the Common Core targets for math and the English language that North Carolina's public school students must meet.

The Academic Standards Review Commission has a year to review what students should learn between kindergarten and high school graduation. The standards started to show up in classrooms two years ago and will stay in place until any changes are finalized.

The review is under way thanks to a new law passed after parents and teachers complained some of the standards were inappropriate for younger children. Tea party Republicans argued Common Core amounted to a federal takeover of education.

A national organization of state school officers and the National Governors Association developed the Common Core standards, which the federal government encouraged states to accept with potential grant money as an incentive. Forty-four states and Washington, D.C., adopted them, with North Carolina one of the earliest to sign on. Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Missouri have since decided to re-write the Common Core standards.

The North Carolina commission could recommend ways to modify the standards or, less likely, that they should be left alone.

"I'm hopeful that the standards will remain strong and any issues with age-appropriateness standards, that those would be the ones that would be addressed," said Phil Kirk, a Republican business leader who headed the state school board for six years under former Democratic Govs. Jim Hunt and Mike Easley. "We've spent tens of millions of dollars developing the standards and training teachers and it will be frustrating if we have to start all over on that."

He is watching who the 11-member volunteer commission appoints as its consultants for clues as to what direction the revision of Common Core might take.

North Carolina has spent more than $66 million to train teachers on the standards, which are supposed to focus on key concepts and help students understand how to apply them in real-life situations, State Schools Superintendent June Atkinson said.

The law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory this summer directs the commission to survey parents, teachers and others on new standards. The commission also could hold town hall meetings.

McCrory said he signed the law establishing the review of Common Core because it offered a chance to address complaints by teachers, parents and students of over-testing.

The review commission was required by law to meet before Sept. 1. It's not clear whether there will be any repercussions for the three-week delay.

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

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Emery P. Dalesio

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