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Originally published: 2014-07-17 18:38:54
Last modified: 2014-07-17 18:39:04

GA passes Common Core replacement bill

by Anna Oakes

The General Assembly on Wednesday agreed to a compromise version of Senate Bill 812, which will modify and replace the Common Core public education standards adopted by the state in 2010.

Republicans Dan Soucek of Boone and Jerry Tillman of Archdale were the primary sponsors of the bill, which, in its compromise form, stopped short of a wholesale repeal of the Common Core standards, instead directing an Academic Standards Review Commission to review the standards and recommend changes to the State Board of Education by Dec. 31, 2015.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory released a statement following the bill's passage indicating he would sign the legislation.

"I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina's education standards," McCrory said. "It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education. I especially look forward to the recommendations that will address testing issues so we can measure what matters most for our teachers, parents and students."

The Common Core State Standards Initiative began in 2009 as an effort to standardize education goals and proficiency levels across the country. The federal government played no role in development of the Common Core, and state adoption is not necessary, according to the initiative. Forty-three states have adopted the Common Core, but several states, including Indiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Missouri, have made efforts to repeal the standards.

Proponents of the legislation resisted what they characterized as federal or outside interference in state education matters; S812 expressly directed that the State Board of Education "not enter into any agreement, understanding or contract that would cede control of the Standard Course of Study and related assessments."

"With our bill, it will be unambiguous who controls North Carolina's standards for academics," Soucek told The Avery Journal-Times. "The highest priority is having high, age-appropriate standards for our students."

But Common Core supporters praised its emphasis on critical thinking skills and insisted it afforded teachers flexibility over the curricula, lesson plans and materials used to achieve the student standards.

S812 directs the commission to develop modifications to existing K-12 school standards that: increase students' level of academic achievement; meet and reflect North Carolina's priorities; are age-level and developmentally appropriate, are understandable to parents and teachers; and are among the highest standards in the nation.

The legislation also directs the commission to recommend changes that would reduce the number of "high-stakes assessments" administered to public schools.

Budget talks ongoing
McCrory released the following statement Tuesday on budget meetings with House and Senate leaders:

"Earlier today we had positive dialogue with Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis during a meeting at the Executive Mansion. However, we continue to have objections concerning the elimination of thousands of teacher assistants as well as cuts to core state services, including programs for the elderly, disabled and Alzheimer's patients.

"During our luncheon, we presented the option to allow local school districts flexibility to provide teacher raises and fund teacher assistants. We're encouraged that both Speaker Tillis and Senate Education Chairman Jerry Tillman publicly indicated their willingness to consider this proposal. We look forward to further dialogue with the House and Senate."