Educators are convening this week to write new math and English standards that will determine what students should know before advancing to the next grade. The end goal is writing standards that prepare graduates for college and career.
Currently, the state Technical College System spends approximately $21 million annually catching students up on basic skills they need to be prepared for a career or to study at a university, according the state Education Oversight Committee.
Some education experts fret the writers may not have enough time to produce standards that are rigorous enough by the 2015-2016 school year, the deadline for implementation under a law passed this year aimed at pursuing new standards in lieu of the Common Core.
“I think it’s a very tight time-frame,” said Melanie Barton, Executive Director for the Education Oversight Committee. But regardless of what education officials and the public think about education standards, Barton wants to remind people it’s the consumer that matters—the student. And what the student needs from the new standards is to graduate prepared for college or the job market. “Sometimes in this debate we tend to lose focus,” she said.
State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Mick Zais is an ex-officio member of the committee. Zais, who didn’t seek re-election this year, spent much of his term decrying the Common Core standards as a one-size-fits-all program that didn’t suit the broad interests of students.
And timing isn’t an issue for the state Education Department. “We are confident that the math and English teams will be able to develop new standards in the timeframe envisioned by the General Assembly,” wrote department spokesman, Dino Teppara in an email Monday.
Once completed, the standards will be reviewed by parents and educators, and must be approved by the EOC and the General Assembly. Teachers will then be trained according to new standards. A complete timeline is available through the Education Department’s website.
Neither the Education Department nor the EOC can definitively say how much implementing new standards will cost, though the state and local districts will likely have to pick up the tab for teacher training, new texts and other items. According to a survey published by The Charlotte Observer, implementing Common Core cost state and local districts at least $105 million.
A 19-member math writing team began meeting in July. Writers of the English standards begin meeting on Wednesday.