North Carolina Moves to Integrated High School Math

NorthCarolina-flag-bigMore evidence that states are making major shifts based on the Common Core State Standards

Via EdWeek:

I often hear from math educators that the common-core standards seem to cry out for moving away from the traditional Algebra 1-geometry-Algebra 2 sequence toward a more integrated approach to the discipline. North Carolina is now moving toward replacing those courses with a state policy of requiring an integrated mathematics sequence, I recently learned, joining Utah and West Virginia…

…In explaining the state’s action, Pitre-Martin said it just makes sense to blend content across math topics into one course.

“We have taught algebra and geometry in isolation of each other, and we don’t apply math that way,” she said. “You don’t isolate your math skills that way.”

This also diminishes local control, but hey North Carolina is going to allow school districts to offer more advanced versions of integrated math courses if they wish.

How kind of them.

We have mentioned before that the standards were not well organized at the high school level and that some topics are insufficiently covered.  We also noted that the standards are not divided into defined courses.

So how is it again that the standards won’t drive curriculum?  They’re driving course sequence.  Instead of adjusting the standards to fit the current sequence (which would be a lot easier) North Carolina is going to change up all their math courses along with textbooks I assume to make them fit the standards.  It sounds like this will be mandated by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction without consulting the state legislature as well.

That is completely nonsensical, and it illustrates once again that bureaucrats hold way too much power over education policy.

Common Core Study Bill Filed in North Carolina

North-Carolina-State-CapitolH733 was filed in the North Carolina House of Representatives.  The bill’s purpose is to establish a committee of 20 members to study the Common Core State Standards and their impact in North Carolina.  State Representatives Larry Pittman (R-Concord), Hugh Blackwell (R-Valdese), Rob Bryan (R-Charlotte) and Michael Speciale (R-New Bern) are the primary sponsors.  If this bill passes the committee will study items such as:

(1)        The estimated cost of implementing the CCSS in K‑12 Mathematics and K‑12 English Language Arts since approval by the State Board of Education in June 2010, including costs associated with at least all of the following:

a.         The purchase of instructional materials that are aligned with the CCSS.

b.         Professional development and training provided to school personnel.

c.         The changes to schools’ and local administrative units’ technological infrastructure (including computer hardware, software, bandwidth, security, etc.) necessitated by adoption of CCSS and assessments.

d.         Outreach and personnel expenses committed by the Department of Public Instruction for CCSS‑related activities.

(2)        Projected cost of fully implementing common core assessments in English and Mathematics upon adoption of common assessments and all related assessment instruments.

(3)        A detailed summary of the federal funds used to assist North Carolina’s adoption of the CCSS and common assessments.

(4)        Research that determines whether CCSS’s definition of “college readiness” is consistent with the requirements needed to enter four‑year constituent institutions of The University of North Carolina system.

(5)        Studies that demonstrate that CCSS uses appropriate, research‑based curriculum sequences in Mathematics and English Language Arts.

(6)        The details of North Carolina’s participation in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

(7)        Time line for the adoption of CCSS assessments.

(8)        Programs and support services created or adapted to assist schools in implementing CCSS.

(9)        Practices employed to assist at‑risk students, including children with disabilities, low‑income students, and English language learners.

(10)      Changes to instructional methods and teaching philosophies stimulated by CCSS adoption.

(11)      Perspectives of classroom teachers and school‑based administrators that assess the transition from State standards to the CCSS.

(12)      Perspectives of classroom teachers and school‑based administrators that detail the ongoing process of teaching CCSS, including impacts on working conditions and classroom instruction and prospects for its success.

(13)      Perspectives of public school students, parents, and members of the community regarding the impact of the CCSS.

(14)      CCSS‑related correspondence between the Department of Public Instruction and any elected member of the General Assembly between January 2009 and June 2010.

(15)      Correspondence between the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Public Instruction related to CCSS between June 2010 and the date of inquiry.

(16)      Operation of the Common Core Certification Program in North Carolina.

(17)      Plans and prospects for adopting common standards in other subjects, including all of the following:

a.         Arts Education.

b.         English as a Second Language.

c.         Healthful Living.

d.         Information and Technology Skills.

e.         World Languages.

f.          Science.

g.         Social Studies.

h.         Career and Technical Education.

(18)      Public school student data collection, dissemination, and access policies and practices employed in North Carolina since adoption of the CCSS.

(19)      CCSS preparation and training provided by teacher education programs and schools of education in North Carolina.

(20)      Impact of CCSS adoption on charter schools, alternative schools, specialty and regional schools, online schools, early college programs, and other nontraditional public school settings.

(21)      Impact of CCSS adoption on International Baccalaureate programs, Advanced Placement courses, the Occupational Course of Study, and other alternative courses of study.

(22)      Comparisons of CCSS adoption and performance disaggregated by student groups (e.g. sex, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, grade), school types and sizes, community types, percentage of economically disadvantaged students, and other commonly accepted categories.

(23)      CCSS adoption in North Carolina compared to other states and jurisdictions.

(24)      Evidence that the use of a common or national curriculum in other countries directly leads to high academic achievement.

(25)      Fiscal, educational, and legal consequences of State withdrawal from CCSS and/or the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium.

The bill does not slow or stop the implementation, but will provide a through report on the actual cost and impact of the Standards.  The committee would submit an interim report in 2014 with recommendations for action, they will do that again in 2015 and their final report would be in 2016.  I suspect as they study this further we could see a bill to halt implementation in their next session.  This may be a model for states that are not quite ready to halt the implementation of the Standards.

We encourage North Carolina residents to contact their State Representativ
e about this bill

Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation wrote a primer for North Carolina residents on the Common Core.

Spotlight 435 – 35 Questions About Common Core: Answers for North Carolinians

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

Common Core webinars in North Carolina

According to the NC Department of Public Instruction,

Information for implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics is the focus of three webinars scheduled in the New Year. We hope your schedule will allow you to participate in one of the following (the webinar material is the same for each) webinars. Each will be held from 3-5 p.m.:

Jan. 10:
Feb. 9:
March 8:

As far as I can tell, the webinars are open to all.  I will be monitoring these sessions, but if anyone else is interested, follow the links above to register.

NC DPI embraces Common Core wackiness

I recently spent some time reviewing presentations from the April 2011 Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement (CCSA).  The CCSA is an annual conference sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI).

During the conference Kitty Rutherford (NC DPI Elementary Mathematics Consultant) and Robin Barbour (NC DPI Secondary Mathematics Consultant) discussed the implementation of the Common Core math standards in North Carolina.  According to their Power Point presentation, the first step is to discard two core beliefs about mathematics:

1. All students in a mathematics classroom work on the same problem at the same time

2. Each math question should have a single answer

I am fine with the idea of modifying the first idea.  Kids learn differently.  I have no problem allowing some students to proceed to more advanced problems and others to work on basic ones.

However, the idea that we need to reject the idea of a correct answer is appalling.  And it gets to the heart of why we oppose the Common Core.  Rutherford and Barbour provide the following example:

Example 1: If someone asked you to name two numbers to multiply, which numbers would you choose and why?

I suspect that most students will choose numbers that are easy to multiply and require as little work as possible.  Indeed, I would always choose to multiply by zero or one.

Furthermore, should we really care why students choose numbers?  Should our teachers waste valuable class time on such questions?  Absolutely not.  We need to ask whether he or she successfully multiplied the numbers.  I suppose that it does not matter to the Common Core folks, given that there is no single (read: correct) answer.

Common Core: There's an app for that

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is asking teachers to check out the new Common Core Standards app available at iTunes.

Here is a description of the app:

View the Common Core State Standards in one convenient FREE app! A great reference for students, parents, and teachers to easily read and understand the core standards. Quickly find standards by subject, grade, and subject category (domain/cluster). This app includes Math standards K-12 and Language Arts standards K-12. Math standards include both traditional and integrated pathways (as outlined in Appendix A of the common core) and synthesizes Language Arts standards with the Corresponding College and Career Readiness Standards (CCR’s).

And here is what it looks like:

This gives you a pretty good sense of the amount of money that the Common Core advocates are willing to spend on their effort.