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State Board glimpses Common Core changes

The State Board of Education got a look at the first changes to North Carolina’s Common Core standards at last Wednesday’s Board meeting.

The changes presented to the board were in high school courses Math I, II, and III, which will now be called Math 1, 2, and 3. The standards were revised to make them easier to understand, more rigorous, and to make sure they’re appropriately placed. As a result some standards have moved from one course to another.

The changes to high school math are coming well in advance of changes in the standards of any other course or grade level. This is due to the near-universal agreement from the Academic Standards Review Commission, teachers consulted in the field, and the Department of Public Instruction that the standards for Math I, II, and III were in need of some of the most serious revisions. If the board approves the revisions when they meet in June, the changes could go into effect for the next school year. See our previous coverage of this topic here and here.

Jennifer Curtis, section chief of the K-12 Mathematics Section at the Department of Public Instruction, said that districts are OK with the quick turnaround.

“While at first they were concerned about the timetable, now that they’ve seen the draft, it’s very manageable,” she said.

State Board Vice Chair A.L. “Buddy” Collins and Board member Patricia Willoughby expressed skepticism at the timetable, saying that some portions of the changes seemed like they would take more time to implement. One of the criticisms of the original implementation of Common Core in North Carolina was that the roll out was too quick and districts didn’t have enough time to prepare.

However, Curtis said that the changes to what is taught as a result of these standard changes will be minimal.

“The math hasn’t changed. So, teachers know the mathematics. What teachers want to know is, in what course does it exist,” she said, adding later. “We’ve been test driving these standards for four years. we know what needs to change.”

It’s difficult to describe the change in standards since they were done on a case-by-case basis and come down to revisions of language or placement in the various courses.

For instance, one Math I standard was originally listed in the following way:

Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems. Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions.

Note: At this level, focus on linear and exponential functions.

In the first draft revision, it became this:

Create equations and inequalities in one variable that represent linear, quadratic and exponential relationships.

And in the second draft revision, it finally became this.

Create equations and inequalities in one variable that represent linear, exponential, and quadratic relationships and use them to solve problems.

You can see all the draft revisions for Math I here, for Math II here and for Math III here. 

See a summary overview of the changes here.

See district feedback and suggested revisions here, here, and here.

See the PowerPoint Presentation from the State Board meeting here.

Below is a video of the presentation to the State Board.

Missing from the revisions was any move to do away with integrated math and go back to the pre-Common Core sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II.

That was a preliminary recommendation of the Academic Standards Review Commission, though, controversially, that recommendation did not make it into the Commission’s final report. See our coverage of their suggested standards changes here.

Below is a video of the Question and Answer portion of the presentation to the Board. (Warning, the questions from Board Members are difficult to hear)

After the State Board presentation, Superintendent June Atkinson held a press conference where she discussed some of the difficulties that come with trying to implement these revised standards.

“We face the interesting dilemma: On the one hand people are pulling this hand saying change, change, change,” she said. “And on the other hand, we have people pulling in this direction, saying don’t change too fast, don’t change too fast.”

The revisions are not yet finalized, and DPI is looking for public input on the draft changes. You can read the press release here. Go here to give feedback on the standard revisions.

See the video of the press conference below.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.