Common Core Q&As


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The N.C. Department of Public Instruction adopted the Common Core State Standards as the math and English Language Arts standards in 2010 and implemented them throughout the state’s public schools during the 2012-13 school year. The new, nationalized curriculum defines what K-12 students should know in two basic subject areas — English language arts and mathematics — by the end of each grade. This endeavor to unify the public school curriculum across the country began in 2009.

The internationally benchmarked standards were created using existing state standards, research, current college and work expectations, experience from teachers and public feedback. Proponents say the standards increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and help students who move during their K-12 years by maintaining a consistent curriculum across the states. Many textbook developers favor them as well, since they are able to more provide consistent text for students across the U.S.

Support for the Common Core State Standards recently diminished, however, due to concerns about age-appropriate teaching material and increased standardized testing. Some activists argue that the Common Core standards infringe on state sovereignty, although the federal government is not requiring states to adopt the national curriculum initiative.

Such initiatives are not new. (Remember the No Child Left Behind act?) State education standards have existed for many years, allowing each its own definition of proficiency. The Common Core State Standards were designed to normalize these proficiency standards.

We opened up the floor to Carolina Parent readers so they could ask questions about the Common Core State Standards. Tammy Howard, director of Accountability Services for NCDPI, and Robin McCoy, director of K-12 Curriculum and Instruction for NCDPI, provide some answers. You can also learn more about the standards and international benchmarks at corestandards.org.

The House Education Committee voted 27-16 on June 3 to direct state officials to begin studying new achievement standards for North Carolina students as a way to replace the national Common Core State Standards. The House also voted 74-40 on June 24 to put its version of the legislation into a Senate repeal bill and send it back to the chamber, which could force lawmakers on either side to come up with a compromise. What are the latest developments there, and how could this affect the curriculum for 2014-15?

McCoy: SB 812 was enacted into law on July 22, 2014. The bill calls for a review of the mathematics and English language arts standards. The State Board of Education is responsible for adoption of standards for N.C. public schools and the State Board of Education already has a policy requiring a review of standards every five years. This process will be followed for the math and ELA standards beginning this fall, 2014, and continuing throughout the school year and into 2015-16. Until such time as the review process is completed and any modifications adopted by the State Board of Education, the current standards will remain in place.

What do you see as some of the strengths of the Common Core State Standards?

McCoy: Compared to our previous North Carolina ELA and math standards, they provide a greater level of rigor in the classroom such that students will be better prepared for college and the workplace. They encourage higher-level thinking skills, including problem solving and reasoning skills. They allow for students with high mobility to be more successful, since school districts across states will be using the same set of standards in ELA and math. The standards promote enhanced teacher collaboration and professional development as teachers within and across states share best practices around the teaching of the standards. … As our teachers become more familiar with the new standards and ways of providing instruction to address the standards, our students will benefit.

What do teachers think about the Common Core State Standards?

McCoy: We administered a survey to our teachers and the majority of responses were in favor of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics. In addition, the biannual Teacher Working Conditions Survey was completed this year and the majority of respondents were in support of the standards. Our North Carolina Association of Educators supports the standards.

How many benchmark tests do teachers have to give the average elementary, middle and high school student throughout the year as part of this curriculum; for what subjects and how often?

Howard: The curriculum does not require benchmark testing. That is a local issue, not state-required.

How were the End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests changed to adapt to the Common Core State Standards, and what impact has the curriculum had on these test scores?

Howard: As with any shift to new content standards, new tests were developed and first implemented in 2012-13. The impact on the test is the rigor of the content standards. The tests are aligned to the content standards, thus measuring whether students have learned the standards. The percent of students (who are) proficient has decreased, but that is expected anytime there are new content standards and a shift in what is taught. We have seen this occur every time we implement new standards and new tests.

Do you foresee additional changes to EOG and EOC tests due to the Common Core State Standards?

Howard: No.

What constitutes changes in math due to the Common Core State Standards?

McCoy: There are three main shifts in the math standards. First, there is greater focus on fewer topics so that students gain a strong foundation and solid understanding of concepts, a high degree of procedural skill and the ability to apply math to real-world problems. Second, there is a greater emphasis on coherence or linking knowledge and skill development across grades so that learning is a progression rather than disconnected topics or memorization. Third, there is greater rigor, meaning that conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency and application are given equal intensity such that students gain a deep command of mathematical concepts.

At the high school level, our math courses are now titled Math I, Math II and Math III. The courses include the same concepts and skills included in the courses we previously called Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. However, the Math I, II and III courses reorganize the concepts and skills into a more integrated course of study that leads to a greater conceptual understanding of mathematics.

I’d like to know more about Read To Achieve. Is this part of Common Core, or was it implemented as a separate initiative?

Howard: This is not part of Common Core. It is a reading initiative enacted by the General Assembly in 2012.

I want to know when to expect testing and what’s expected in kindergarten related to the new curriculum.

McCoy: There are no formal testing requirements in kindergarten. … During the kindergarten year, information collected during the first 60 days of enrollment creates a Kindergarten Child Profile, capturing a snapshot of each child at the beginning of kindergarten. To create the profile, the teacher intentionally collects evidence (e.g., observations, work samples, parent input, activities) about what children can say, do, make or write across five areas of learning and development: Approaches to learning, cognitive, emotional-social, language and communication, and health and physical. ... The evidence collected is then used to help the teacher understand where a child may be in his or her learning. This helps the teacher and student make immediate and ongoing adjustments to instruction and learning.

Carolyn Caggia is an editorial intern with Carolina Parent Magazine. She is a rising junior at N.C. State University majoring in environmental science with a focal area in journalism. 

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Calendar

December 2019

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

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Create artwork inspired by the Christmas tree. Ages 6-10. Register online. Choose course #126771.

Cost: $31/resident, $40/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden "caches." We will learn how to use traditional GPS units and the Geocaching App (by Groundspeak), then hike...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Holiday Gift Making for Friends They're back! Come learn how to sew the perfect sized scrunchie - an excellent holiday gift for friends. Choose from a variety of fabrics, colors, and...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
The Studio School of Durham
1201 W Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: The Studio School of Durham
Telephone: 984-377-4502
Contact Name: Danielle Sunde
Website »

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Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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The ensemble performs favorite holiday tunes as well as the soundtrack to "The Snowman" as it is shown on a large screen. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

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Ages 15 and older enjoy a night of dancing, refreshments, a winter wonderland photo booth and more. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Winter is a great time to explore nature at the park! Join a naturalist to learn how to identify tracks, explore conifers, and drink pine needle tea. Then observe snow and ice through hands-on...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Family members join teams to shoot foul shots for a chance to win a holiday ham. See website for age divisions and times. No registration necessary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Center
73 Hunter St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Telephone: 919-249-3402
Website »

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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy a showing of "Home Alone." Register online. Choose course #128732.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Please join Admissions, Division Directors and our Head of School as they talk about Duke School’s unique program, specifically for students entering 5th-8th grade for the 2020-21 school year....

Cost: $0

Where:
Duke School
3716 Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Duke School
Telephone: 919-416-9420
Contact Name: Logan Blaylock

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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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Assist with our habitat box monitoring. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention and may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current boxes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Enjoy a family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person. $2 for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127199.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Bring your kids to the park for a day of crafting and nature while you take advantage of a few more hours of holiday shopping.  The crafts your child creates will make great keepsakes or gifts for...

Cost: $16 per child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Ages 11-17 create old-fashioned taffy and hard candy using ingredients like caramel, marshmallow and chocolate. Register online. Choose course #127044.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Website »

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Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. 

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. 

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Traditional dance caller Connie Carringer teaches fun dances for the whole family: squares, circles, Appalachian and more accompanied by old-time, string band music performed by local musicians. No...

Cost: $2/person or $5/family

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

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No Christmas season is complete without your family experiencing The Raleigh Boychoir’s shining “Carols of Christmas.” This year we are excited to invite community members to sing...

Cost: $10 Students, $15 Seniors, $20 Adults.

Where:
Edenton Street United Methodist
228 W Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Raleigh Boychoir
Telephone: (919)881-9259
Contact Name: Erin O'Hara
Website »

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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

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Ages 5 and older move through yoga poses set to holiday music, decorate a special treat and drink hot chocolate. Registration required online. Choose course #127393. 

Cost: $19/child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Website »

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Ages 4-12 enjoy free arts and crafts. Registration not required. Children must have adult accompaniment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m. Registration required...

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
Website »

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Harris Lake will welcome a special holiday visitor this December! Santa will take time out of his busy schedule to join us for a cup of hot cocoa and a ride on our wagon along the back roads of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

More information

Discover what's happening in nature as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #127675.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Take part in this annual walk to celebrate the winter solstice. Take a handmade lantern (white lanterns/lights only, handmade is requested, no fire allowed). Participants will gather at the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough
, NC  27278


Website »

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