LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Board of Education censured the state’s decision to repeal the Common Core curriculum and assessment standards during a Thursday evening retreat.
The implementation of Common Core two years ago and concurrent renormalization of end-of-year assessment exams cut the percentage of Scotland County students demonstrating proficiency nearly in half. But board members say that converting to yet another new curriculum in 2015 will do students no favors.
That will happen if, as expected, Gov. Pat McCrory signs into law legislation approved by both houses of the General Assembly eliminating Common Core and replacing it with a curriculum formulated by a new state commission.
“The problem we have is that we’re renorming all of these scores and it looks like we’re doing terribly in the schools because our scores are way down and now we’re going to do it again,” said board member Jamie Sutherland. “Something’s got to stay for an extended period of time to allow us to educate and to be able to show growth.”
Board member Paul Rush added that Common Core’s abrupt implementation as a national set of standards was not well handled, with little accurate information disseminated about its components.
“The problem with Common Core from my standpoint is that we hadn’t been educated in the intricacies of Common Core,” he said. “It really got shoved – we heard it was coming and had a little bit of information here and there but really as a board never … that’s part of the problem I have with it, I don’t know if it’s good, bad, or indifferent.”
According to Superintendent Ron Hargrave, the curriculum has been an improvement over the previous N.C. Standard Course of Study, which covered a greater number of objectives with relatively little depth.
“The intent of Common Core was wonderful because the curriculum that we had in the beginning was too much and there was no way you could teach it all,” said Hargrave.” You could take 20 years teaching the entire curriculum and still not have it all taught. The intent with Common Core was to pare it down and teach those things that were essential for kids.”
He added that new standards and new tests will only exacerbate county students’ low test scores as teachers themselves get used to a new set of objectives and new end of year tests are adjusted each year to accurately reflect student proficiency.
Sutherland described a replacement of Common Core as a step backward for the school system.
“From the local level we spent a lot of money to educate our staff. I mean we changed how we went to school last year so we could do all our education on the front side of that and now we’re going to go back and change again.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 17. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.