Common core critics: NC needs to completely rewrite standards

By: - March 17, 2015 3:53 pm

Members of a review commission tasked with vetting the Common Core met Monday to hear from nationally known critics of the standards who advocated for their complete rehaul.

WUNC’s Reema Khrais has the rundown here:

Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram both served on the Common Core Validation Committee from 2009-10 and refused to sign off on them as being “rigorous, internationally competitive or research-based.” They were among five of the 29 committee members who didn’t approve them.

Since then, Stotsky [English language arts expert] and Milgram [math expert] have visited more than a dozen states to discuss problems they perceive with the standards, along with recommendations on how states should move forward.

“We need to have first-rate standards developed for this country,” said Stotsky, education professor at the University of Arkansas. “You do not have them in North Carolina.”

As Khrais reports, Stotsky recommended to the review commission that they consider adoption of better state standards, such as those of California or Massachusetts. Milgram suggested a total re-write of the math standards.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of guidelines that were developed by a group of governors and state superintendents and set forth what students should know and be able to do in English Language Arts and mathematics, has incited a great deal of controversy both in North Carolina and around the nation.

Parents, teachers, and other stakeholders have called into question whether or not the standards demand excessive testing, if they are grade-level appropriate, and if they serve as a vehicle for corporate profit. Some states have either opted out or plan to opt out of the adoption of the standards.

But proponents of the standards say they are badly needed, providing increased academic rigor that will better prepare students for today’s workforce demands.

Stotsky and Milgram have become well known national critics of the Common Core who served on its validation committee (but didn’t sign off on them) and have traveled the nation speaking out against the standards.

But there is another North Carolina-based mathematics professor who also served on the Common Core’s validation committee alongside Stotsky and Milgram but was not asked to testify before the review commission Monday—Jere Confrey, a professor of mathematics education at N.C. State University.

Confrey told N.C. Policy Watch that the review commission’s co-chair, Andre Peek, said he would try to get her on the panel with Stotsky and Milgram—but ultimately that didn’t happen.

“I think they have a contingency on the board who is aligned with a group of people that is strongly opposed to the Common Core,” said Confrey. “There is an agenda being carried out, which is to only hear from people who oppose the Common Core.”

Confrey has written a rebuttal to Milgram’s statements on the math standards, pointing out what she says are various inaccuracies and misleading statements, which you can read here.

Confrey says she does agree on one point with the Common Core critics: that a well-prepared teacher who is able to implement the standards is essential to having good schooling.

Read Khrais’ full report here.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Lindsay Wagner

Lindsay Wagner, former Education Reporter for N.C. Policy Watch. Wagner now works as a Senior Writer and Researcher at the NC Public School Forum. She has also worked for the American Federation of Teachers in Washington, D.C., as a writer and researcher focusing on higher education issues and for the National Education Association, the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright program and the Brookings Institution and an Education Specialist at the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. [email protected]