The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is currently engaged in a doing re-write of Common Core.
What could possibly go wrong?
The email went out Tuesday afternoon, just after 5 pm due to the Senate Ed Committee being held the next day. The email called on recipients to oppose HB 657 and call the legislators involved.
Here are the proposed changes the legislature wants to make. I believe some minor changes were made at yesterday. I’ll have more on the meeting in a separate article. This article is about the DPI spin machine.
Yes, HB 657 will take math ‘backwards’ and that’s a good thing.
It would take our students back to math that was actually teachable, parents could understand, had real-world use, had a logical progression, didn’t skip around, allowed for mastery of skills and more.
The horror. You know, math that ACTUALLY WORKED.
DPI’s alert email had a document with 6 talking points for recipients to use to oppose HB 657. Curiously, the document’s first point uses the ACT scores in a chart that really makes no sense. It compares only two years of scores and somehow contrasts them with our old standards?
DPI’s own chart also seems to suggest ACT participation rates were higher under our old standards. How can that be true or even be a viable comparison when in the same year we implemented Common Core (2012), DPI made the ACT a statewide requirement and therefore increased the sample size significantly?
The NC 2015 scores were basically flat and we tied for Mississippi for the lowest average composite score. And, according to the ACT itself, the needle for ‘Career and College Readiness’ barely moved and in some cases, dropped.
Last September, I wrote about the ACT scores. North Carolina’s ACT scores have taken a nosedive since 2011, with minority students being hardest hit. The composite score drop was bad, but looking at the ‘career and college readiness’ benchmark scores shows just how bad.
NC tied with Kentucky (Common Core’s first adopter) and only 5 states scored lower than us.
One might conclude that DPI is cherry picking the ACT data.
Lies About the ASRC
The DPI talking points, under number 5, says that this bill would ‘upend’ the work of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) and that ‘ASRC recommendations did not include a change in math course sequence. ‘.
That’s a lie. Not a little one, but a big one.
Here’s the truth:
- The ASRC math group recommended scrapping Common Core math entirely in favor of using Minnesota math as a template.
- The workgroup wanted to scrap Integrated math and returning to Algebra I and II and Geometry.
- Various ASRC members rather viciously attacked the leader of the math group at the final meeting and effectively killed the math recommendations. Read ASRC Co-Chair Covil’s dissent letter.
- In fact, the math work group’s report says outright: “The MWG recommends that NC return to the old sequence of study Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II in high school for the following reasons.”
The last talking point in the Oppose 657 says 89% of the May 2016 survey wanted to keep the Integrated math.
It looks like DPI repeated the survey they did last year for the ASRC in order to get the results they needed to justify keeping Integrated math. It’s that simple.
At the State Board of Education meeting, DPI presented documents with comments in them but failed to include the count of total survey respondents.
For example, the number of comments DPI presented on Math I was 26 pages long and I had to count them by hand, which was roughly around 220 comments give or take. If Math I’s response total is even near the same in Math II and III, you’re looking at a sample far smaller than that of 778 respondents for the ASRC’s survey.
The survey DPI did for the ASRC just months prior showed that 69% of math teachers wanted the Integrated math scrapped. Don’t believe that? Read the ASRC work group’s report.
The report also notes the results of the survey DPI conducted for the ASRC:
Comparison with ASRC survey questions for high school teachers
773 teachers of high school math responded to the survey. This is about 16 % of all teachers licensed to teach high school in NC. Of these, 69.0% said they would like to go back to the old Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 sequence. The MWG takes this as solid affirmation of the recommendation above.
The High Cost Of Keeping Common Core
The DPI talking points fear monger on costs of changing. How would it cost us “TENS OF MILLIONS” to change back to what our state already had? The answer is simple, it wouldn’t. Not dropping the Integrated math or offering an alternative may cost our students dearly.