New Hanover County school officials are hesitant to embrace legislative efforts to repeal and replace Common Core State Standards despite lingering concerns about corresponding assessments and testing requirements.
The standards, which set rigorous expectations for students in mathematics and English language arts, were adopted by North Carolina in 2010.
“The standards are much tougher than they used to be. … My concern is that we have put a testing system behind [the standards] that doesn’t necessarily measure what those standards are,” said New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley during an April 28 phone interview.
A study committee formed by the Legislative Research Commission heard those criticisms during four meetings held after the General Assembly’s 2013 regular session, prompting the commission to propose repeal legislation. If passed, a commission would be formed under the N.C. Department of Administration to create new standards for North Carolina students.
Markley questioned the need to generate a new commission to create standards.
“It creates another layer of bureaucracy outside the education system,” Markley said. “If you want to repeal Common Core standards, send them back to the state board of education and tell those guys to develop new standards.”
New Hanover County Board of Education Chairman Don Hayes was concerned about who would be on the commission.
“If they do set up this commission, hopefully many segments will be represented on that, then there would be clarity as to what they come up with. Right now, that’s lacking,” Hayes said during an April 30 phone interview.
The 17-member commission would include teachers, parents and math and language arts experts in addition to two N.C. State Board of Education members.
Hayes recalled a September 2013 resolution passed by the county school board requesting clarity on Common Core expectations from the state board of education and N.C Department of Public Information.
“We were, I think, the first in the state to pass a resolution. … The assessments hadn’t been fully developed. As far as cost, we didn’t know exactly what the cost would be and who would be paying for it, if there was going to be mandatory online testing. A lot of those concerns [still] haven’t been fully worked out,” Hayes said.
Hayes and Markley both said a repeal and replacement of Common Core could affect school operations in the interim.
“If the legislation passes, we have to wait until new standards are put in place. Any standard-writing process is a six- to 12-month process. In the meantime, we’ve got assessments based on old standards that no longer exist,” Markley said.
Hayes was worried about the burden more uncertainty would place on teachers.
“I think they would just like to see it settled and move forward,” Hayes said.
The General Assembly will consider the legislation when the short session convenes May 14.