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An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

Tests Aligned To Common Core Causing A Stir

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Hundreds of kids across the Carolinas are putting some standardized tests aligned to the Common Core to the test. They’re getting mixed reviews. South Carolina’s School Superintendent wants to prevent the state from using them next year. The jury is still out in North Carolina.

Standardized testing is a heated topic. But add in Common Core and it gets downright fiery. Both North and South Carolina are part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of a few groups that devices these tests. 

“I realize we can’t get out of Common Core, unless the majority of the state board votes to do that,” says South Carolina School Board member Larry Kobrovsky. 

He admits that’s not likely to happen. 

“Since we have to do it, are there other sources of assessments that are more cost efficient or just as good?” says Kobrovsky. 

He believes there is. So last week Kobrovsky and three other members of the state board voted to withdraw from the testing consortium. But they were in the minority. 

This week, Superintendent Mick Zais said he planned to remove South Carolina from Smarter Balanced and didn’t need the consent of the board to do so. That didn’t go over well with Chairman Barry Bolen.  

“We’re required to have an assessment in place by 2014-2015, so I don’t know how you’re going to do that over the summer,” says Bolen. “We’ve been planning for 1-and-a-half years for Smarter Balanced, so it made no sense.” 

South Carolina lawmakers are also trying to exert their power. The House passed a bill last week to withdraw the state from Smarter Balanced. A senator is blocking a similar bill from being debated on the floor. 

There hasn’t been as much of an outcry in North Carolina. Part of the reason is that the state is still three years away from using the Smarter Balanced tests. Some state lawmakers have concerns about them. As a result they’re requiring the state board to get legislative approval before spending money on any tests linked to the Common Core.  

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.