South Carolina’s breakup with Common Core is bittersweet.
A S.C.-led revision of Common Core – ordered by lawmakers this year – is “inferior” to the original standards, educators told a S.C. Education Oversight Committee panel Monday, encouraging that panel to stick with Common Core until the state comes up with something better.
“We consider it to be a step backward,” said Debbie Barron, an English language arts specialist for Greenville County schools, of the proposed new standards.
Barron was one of about 50 educators, parents and business people on two panels asked to evaluate a draft of new math and English language arts standards, meant to outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.
She noted an “overarching concern about the lack of depth, clarity and organization” in the proposed English standards. Classroom teachers also did not have enough say on the standards, she said.
The S.C. Department of Education and two teams of education professionals wrote the draft of the proposed standards, intended to replace Common Core by the 2015-16 school year, at the direction of lawmakers. The Oversight Committee and the state Board of Education must approve any changes to the standards before they take effect.
But Monday, the panels evaluating the draft math and English standards said they need a lot of work.
The proposed math standards fared better than English in the review. The math panel OK’d the K-8 math standards if several revisions are made.
But both the math and English review panels recommended a complete rewrite of the standards for high school math and all grades of English language arts.
The proposed high school math standards were “convoluted” and difficult for the review panel to understand, said Jack Hatfield, a Camden businessman who home-schools his children.
Susan Shi, an Institute for Child Success trustee and former teacher, said Common Core is a “far superior product.” Shi encouraged lawmakers to stick with Common Core, evaluating it over the next couple of years and revising or adjusting it as they see fit, rather than rushing to accept inferior standards.
The teams writing the new proposed standards are hamstrung by the fact that they have a year to do work that usually takes two — a “mission impossible,” said Oversight Committee member Neil Robinson.
Monday’s testimony was a “pretty strong validation” of the Oversight Committee’s adoption of Common Core in 2010 – a message that needs to “go back to the legislators,” Robinson said.
But state Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, weighed in on the likelihood of lawmakers receiving that message.
“To go back to the General Assembly and say: ‘We made a mistake. We should keep the Common Core,’ ” Hayes said, “That is not going to happen.”