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Common Core compromise bill approved by NC Senate

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

One chamber of the General Assembly signed off Thursday on North Carolina's pathway to eliminate Common Core in the public schools while allowing education policymakers to retain some of those academic standards in another form.

The Senate voted 33-12 in favor of a compromise measure with the House that its top Senate proponent says would repeal Common Core for the state's K-12 standards and direct the State Board of Education to come up with new standards. A new standards advisory commission would be formed to make recommendations to the board.

Common Core, which schools began testing two years ago, would remain in place until the new standards are completed, perhaps for the 2015-16 school year, said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph. The proposal, however, allows the board to keep some of the Common Core standards if deemed the "most aligned to assess student achievement."

Common Core was developed by the nation's governors and school chiefs and was approved by more than 40 states. But North Carolina and a handful of other states are responding to complaints from teachers, parents and conservative advocates that the standards are causing confusion and leading to the use of curriculum that is age-inappropriate.

The final measure must also be approved by the House before it goes to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. The two chambers approved competing bills. The House proposal prevented any Common Core provisions from being used in the future, but the Senate side prevailed on the matter of being able to retain portions of Common Core.

Common Core has "some good and rigorous standards, and I'm sure that we will adopt some of them," Tillman said. The final bill still leaves control with North Carolina to set its education standards, rather than to a "federal conglomeration of states," he added.

Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Richmond, was the only Democrat voting for the final bill Thursday, along with all Republicans present. Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, said the measure "introduces instability to our educators at precisely the wrong time" after much training and planning under Common Core.

"I don't think we need to fear high standards for our teachers and kids," Stein said. Tillman countered that some of the Common Core standards for high-level math are too weak for students.

McCrory has said he wanted to ensure high standards were in place for the public schools.

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