RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The General Assembly passed a law this summer that opponents of Common Core hope will derail its use in North Carolina's public schools. But the law doesn't mean the academic standards previously agreed to by more than 40 other states are automatically eliminated.
Here's an explanation of how Common Core will be reconsidered in North Carolina, and how current benchmarks stemming from Common Core could stay intact, perhaps under a different name:
WHAT'S THE NEW LAW DO? The General Assembly directs the State Board of Education to review the math and English language arts standards based on Common Core the board approved in 2010, and to propose modifications. Board members must consult with a new Academic Standards Review Commission, which will perform its own review and make recommendations. The commission and board have been told to ensure standards help increase student achievement, are age-suitable, understandable to teachers and parents and are among the nation's highest.
DID THE LAW REPEAL COMMON CORE IN NORTH CAROLINA? Not specifically. The law directs the current Standard Course of Study, which lays out the skills K-12 students should master in all subjects, to remain in effect for now. That means Common Core standards, which were first carried out in the 2012-13 school year and are part of the Course of Study, are still in place this fall. For example, students who traditionally took math courses like Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry have been phased into classes called Common Core 1, 2 and 3, where they learn a mix of concepts.
CAN COMMON CORE STAY IN PLACE? While some standards in Common Core are universally accepted and will remain in updated standards, others likely will be squashed. The law tells the education board to implement the best method, leaving the door open for the board to retain some of Common Core. The federal government encouraged states to accept Common Core, with potential grant money as an incentive.
WHAT'S THE STANDARDS COMMISSION DOING? Nothing so far. The law, signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in July, says the panel was to hold its first meeting by Sept. 1, but its 11 members have yet to be announced. Although the law requires a final commission report to the 2016 legislature, legislators expect initial recommendations as soon as possible.
WHAT'S MCCRORY'S TAKE? The governor has called the law "a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards" and is pleased the bill didn't outright repeal Common Core, which he had previously praised for setting high student goals. McCrory also emphasized reducing the number of standardized tests, which the commission is required to examine.
WILL THE PUBLIC BE INVOLVED? The law directs the board to survey parents, teachers and others on new standards. There are also expectations the commission will hold town hall meetings, said Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a longtime Common Core critic and board member. He's using social media to encourage citizens opposed to Common Core to speak up. "We want to make sure that ... their voices are still being heard and people don't think this is the end," Forest said.
WHAT DO COMMON CORE SUPPORTERS THINK? Some education advocacy groups are worried the updated standards won't be an improvement. They say Common Core provided a better way to measure North Carolina students to those elsewhere and ensure they were prepared for future jobs. "The standards in place this school year are the highest and most rigorous we've ever had," said Keith Poston, chief executive of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, which is funded by businesses.