67 Questions About the “Common Core” Curriculum

The current Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina is not someone I generally support. However, he has written a very pointed letter to the head of his state’s department of education that contains a whole lot of questions that have not, to my knowledge, been answered. Susan Ohanian has the entire letter on her website, but here are the first few questions, just to get you started:

The Letter

Dr. Atkinson, 
As we have discussed on several occasions, I have a number of questions about the CommonCore State Standards (CCSS), assessments, and associated requirements for North Carolina Public Education. Given the tight time frame related to the implementation of CCSS this upcoming school year, and the number of remaining State Board of Education meetings prior to implementation, I decided to address my concerns in written question form.

I have divided questions into seven sections: (1) Development of Standards, (2) Cost, (3)Technology, (4) Standards and Student Impact, (5) Role of the Federal Government, (6) Data Collection, and (7) Race to the Top (RttT) and Contracts associated with the grant. Please review this document and contact my office with any questions. It is my goal to have the following information prior to the August 2013 SBE meeting.

I. Development of Standards

As I have stated many times, I am not against standards. I understand the importance of standards in education and I believe our state should have the most competitive standards in the nation. However, I have concerns with how CCSS standards were developed, who developed them, and how they will be implemented. 
1)It is my understanding that Professor Jere Confrey, of NC State University College of Education, was the only North Carolinian identified as a direct participant in the creation of the standards. However, you mentioned that the development of the standards was vetted and discussed by business leaders, teachers, superintendents, parents, and other stakeholders across the state throughout the process. You stated that at these meetings, stakeholders were given the opportunity to discuss the CCSS and provide input. Please provide the following:
i. The dates, times, and locations of these meetings.
ii. The minutes, agendas, and materials from these meetings.
iii. A list/roster of all attendees/stakeholders who participated.
iv. The desired changes/suggestions that were made.
1. If there are no public records of i-iv, can you explain why?
v. What the standards were before suggestions were made.
vi. What the standards were after suggestions were made.
1. If no changes were made, can you explain why?
vii. Who in North Carolina was responsible for presenting these ideas to theorganizations that crafted the standards?
viii. Provide a list of the suggestions that were not taken into consideration.
1.As well as the reasoning provided for why they were not considered.
2) Did the State Board of Education ask for the opinions of dissenting voices/groups prior todeciding to proceed with CCSS?
a. Please provide a list of all individuals, groups, associations, etc. that briefed the State Board of Education on the merits of NOT pursuing CCSS in North Carolina.
b. What steps were taken to include the perspectives of legislators, public school students, parents, and members of the community regarding the impact of the CCSS? Please provide details for these outreach efforts.
c. Please forward all CCSS-related correspondence between the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and any elected member of the North Carolina General Assembly between January 2009 and June 2010.
3) It is my understanding that the State Board can change/alter the CCSS standards by
“15%” to accommodate our State’s needs:
a. What is a “15%” change?
i. What constitutes a percentage point of change for the purposes of modifying the standards?
ii. What states have modified the standards according to these parameters?What was the extent of their changes?
iii. What is the penalty or recourse for making changes above “15%”?
b. Who owns the CCSS standards?
i. Are they copyrighted or available free of charge to any entity that wants to use them?
ii. Do we have the right to revise the standards to accommodate our Public
Schools’ diverse needs?
iii. During the standards revision process known as ACRE, did we vet other publicly available standards?
1. What decisions were made related to other publicly availablestandards (Please include details as to why those standards were not adopted)?
c. Who gets to change or update these standards?
i. What control and/or input do we have in the update process?
ii. What other organizations, interest groups, foundations, think tanks, and states have input in the update process and what is their level of control?
4)Throughout our state’s Race to the Top Application that was submitted in June of 2010,Governor Perdue stated that, “our confidence that the Common Core will establish a high bar defining the most important student outcomes is supported by evidence that the standards are on par with international expectations and will produce high school graduates ready for college and careers. The Consortium has used exemplar state standards to inform the writing process and has convened a strong group of experts to draft, revise, and validate the Common Core.”
a. Which international standards specifically served as the benchmark for CCSS,and what is the evidence that supports these international expectations?
b. Who created the international standards to which the CCSS is benchmarked?
i. Please list the actual countries or jurisdictions.
ii. Which countries or regions use these standards?
iii. What are the successes and failures (if any) of the International standards to which CCSS is benchmarked?
c. If the Consortium convened their own strong group of experts to draft, revise, and validate the CCSS, and Dr. Jere Confrey was the only North Carolinian to have played an active role with the Consortium, then what role did our state’s stakeholders have in actively participating in the development of these standards?
d. The 2007 Grade 8 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study(TIMSS) revealed that the mathematics results in eight countries with national standards outranked the US. However, 30 of the 39 countries that ranked lower also had national standards (McClusky, 2010 appendix C). Based on these results, what evidence exists that national or common standards lead to better results?
e. Of the 27 nations that outranked the US in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Test, 10 of these nations did not have national standards, whereas 12 of the 28 nations that ranked lower than the US had national standards. What is our rationale for implementing national standards when the international results of standards suggest that there is no correlation between national standards and student performance?
f. Has the CCSS been validated empirically?
g. Have any quantitative or qualitative evaluation metrics been put in place to monitor the intended and unintended consequences that the CCSS may have onour education system?
h. What academic studies have been conducted to compare the CCSS standards to those used in other nations? What did those studies find?

Published in: on July 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Just trying to get through all the questions at the beginning and it is apparent to me that many are just boiler plate meant to slow down the CCSS. This can backfire as it is just too dumb. Will the LG actually read a complete response or even the full response to items i thru iv? That much of what is asked for is part of the public record is also rather silly. Not that I like either the CCSS or what’s being done to NC by it’s politicians, but this is just a silly albeit possibly effective way to bring it all to a screeching halt.


    • One of the things that keeps being said is that lots and lots of actual classroom teachers and other educators had input on modifying the Common Core standards. The LG is asking for any documentation that any of those claims are true.


  2. With the adoption and implementation of these research-and-evidence based, internationally benchmarked standards, states nationwide have taken the necessary steps that will better prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and the workforce in this 21st-century global economy. The CCSS is a significant and historic movement as students now have clearer and consistent standards across the nation that is minimizing academic challenges when moving across state or district lines.


  3. Since 2010, 45 states have adopted the same standards for English and math. These standards are called the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Having the same standards helps all students get a good education, even if they change schools or move to a different state. Teachers, parents, and education experts designed the standards to prepare students for success in college and the workplace.


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