Despite what the public has been told, Common Core is still the set of standards being used in North Carolina.
Right now, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is revising the Kindergarten through 8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) standards.
The initial revisions aren’t pretty according to a former member of the Common Core Validation Committee. Dr. Sandra Stotsky was given a look at some of the initial K-8 revisions and characterized the revisions as “warmed over Common Core.”
Dr. Stotsky is a professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and the introductory paragraphs of her bio speak volumes:
Sandra Stotsky is credited with developing one of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students as well as the strongest academic standards and licensure tests for prospective teachers while serving as Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999-2003.
She is also known nation-wide for her in-depth analyses of the problems in Common Core’s English language arts standards.
In 2015, Dr. Stotsky and her validation committee member colleague, Dr. James Milgram, both testified in front of the NC Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC).
Here is her testimony.
Neither Dr. Stostky’s nor Dr. Milgram’s recommendations were incorporated into the ASRC’s final recommendations. In fact, after meeting for 15 months, the ASRC failed to accomplish the simple task appointed to them by the state legislature of offering recommendations to replace Common Core.
Dr. Stotsky noted that from what she had seen of the recent changes, that there is next to no literary or historical content anywhere in the revisions.
Stotsky said some of the standards were actually weaker than the Common Core ones. It was unclear from the high school revisions of the ELA if North Carolina students will read high school level texts in high school. An example was given:
RI.9-10.9 Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.
RI.9-10.9 Analyze influential documents of historical and literary significance, including how they address related themes and concepts.
This poses the question: Does DPI believe that most kids in high school are capable of reading our seminal documents?
Dr. Stotsky has offered to do a review of DPI’s ELA revisions – pro bono.
“I would review the final draft of the ELA standards in NC pro bono if invited to do so by a legislative committee,” said Dr. Stotsky, “and I could report my analysis in public at a public legislative hearing or at a public meeting attended by the governor.”
Superintendent Mark Johnson was asked for comment about whether or not he would take up Dr. Stotsky’s offer but did not respond before this article was published.