RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina would likely be left from the list of states adhering to national Common Core standards under a proposal approved Thursday by the state Senate and now backed by the state's most influential business lobby.
The proposal, like a House version approved Wednesday, directs the State Board of Education to stop participating in developing the standards for math and language arts. The board would then make changes following recommendations from a proposed standards commission.
The North Carolina Chamber had supported retaining the standards and opposed the House bill. But the chamber supports the Senate version approved 33-15 because of a change proposed by the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph.
He introduced a floor amendment that appears to allow the state education board to retain many current standards —those approved under Common Core — if they're found to be "most aligned to assess student achievement."
The Senate bill indicates "we're going to have higher standards. We thought that it gave more stability to our current process while they look to evaluate and change standards and make them higher," said Gary Salamido, the chamber's vice president for government affairs.
One of the measures will have to pass both the House and Senate before going to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. McCrory has expressed concerns about stepping away from Common Core.
Senate Democrats remained skeptical of shifting away from Common Core, which was developed in 2009 and has been adopted by more than 40 states. Indiana has abandoned Common Core and approved new benchmarks in April.
North Carolina teachers have been training or instructing based on Common Core for three years, and their students are starting to benefit from the focus on deep, critical thinking, said Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, during floor debate.
"Can we not just have a little stability in our public schools?" asked Stein, who has three children in public schools. "This is one thing that is actually working and is positive."
Other lawmakers say they're hearing from unhappy teachers with confused teachers and parents who say the standards are leading to curriculum that's inappropriate or isn't vigorous enough, particularly in upper-level math. "Let's look at these standards and see if we can make them better," said Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow.