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Test_takingAs North Carolina contemplates ditching the Common Core State Standards, the state might also want to contemplate this reality: the two preeminent college entrance exams in the United States, the ACT and the SAT, will be aligned with the Common Core.

The ACT, Inc. says its college entrance exam, the ACT, is already aligned with the Common Core and is an active partner with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

And not to be outdone, last month the College Board announced it will redesign the SAT. David Coleman, the (relatively) new CEO for College Board, said that both the SAT and the ACT had “become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”

David Coleman’s job before taking the helm at the College Board was as an architect of the Common Core State Standards. He focused on writing the English Language Arts standards.

Indiana has become the first state to drop the Common Core State Standards. Lawmakers there worried that their students might be at a disadvantage when it comes to taking the college entrance exams, and representatives from the two companies sought to reassure them.

“I think the big question is, ‘If Indiana decides to completely get away from Common Core — and any undesirably elements of Common Core — would that put Indiana students at a disadvantage when they take the college entrance exams SAT or ACT?’” Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, told StateImpact earlier this year. “I asked that question of both representatives, and both of them said as long as Indiana has college- and career-ready standards, then we would not be putting Indiana kids at a disadvantage.”

A story over at The Huffington Post features test prep expert Jed Applerouth’s review of the 208 page preview of the new SAT. He found that the new exam reflects the Common Core State Standards throughout and that it is essentially a 12th grade Common Core assessment:

Sensitive to the political controversy that has recently embroiled the CCSSI (with states like Indiana withdrawing from the standards altogether) the College Board writers explicitly mention the Common Core only once in the 208-page description of the redesigned SAT. But don’t be fooled; scratch ever so slightly beneath the surface of the new SAT, and you hit a Common Core gold mine.

The best example of how the SAT reflects the new Common Core standards can be found in the math section, per Applerouth:

Nowhere on the new SAT is the move towards Common Core alignment more profoundly evident than in the redesigned Math section. For example, take a look at the College Board’s language outlining the first two skills tested by the new “Heart of Algebra” category of questions:

  1. Create, solve, or interpret linear equations in one variable.
  2. Create, solve, or interpret linear inequalities in one variable.

Compare this language to that of the first Common Core standard in High School Algebra:

  1. Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems.

This minor rewording is indicative of just how deeply the new Math section is tied to the Common Core.

All of this begs the question: if North Carolina ditches the Common Core State Standards, will its students be adequately prepared for college entrance exams?

NC Budget and Tax Center

At a time when an increasing number of jobs in the state are expected to require some level of postsecondary training, North Carolina families and students have to shoulder more and more of the cost of a college education.

A report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlights that state spending per student for higher education in North Carolina is 25 percent below pre-recession levels when adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, average tuition at North Carolina’s public, four-year colleges increased by more than 34 percent during this time period.

Some of the outcomes from these budget cuts have been well-documented on North Carolina’s campuses. For example, in the 2014 academic year, state funding cuts led NC State to eliminate 187 full-time equivalent positions and 27 positions from its library system, the report highlights. UNC-Chapel Hill has eliminated 493 positions, cut 16,000 course seats, increased class sizes, cut four of its seven centrally supported computer labs, and eliminated two distance education centers. Read More

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1-7-13-NCPW-CARTOONThis morning’s Winston-Salem Journal lays it out pretty clearly in an editorial on the matter of funding for the University of North Carolina. The paper says it is time for Gov. McCrory to stand up to his budget director and conservative political moneybags, Art Pope (who has launched a new and public effort to forestall needed growth in university spending).

This is from the editorial:

“Pope, who has his own conservative political constituency, has long been a UNC critic. The UNC operations request alone is for 4.6 percent. And while Pope had instructed state agencies to keep increase requests to 2 percent or less, the university’s response must be considered in historical context.

Over the last five years, the UNC operational budget has been cut by hundreds of millions of dollars. UNC officials have found efficiencies to cover some of those lost funds, but they’ve also weakened the education they deliver.

Additionally, students have been hit with big tuition and fee increases while state funding has dropped. All of this in a state where the constitution guarantees a university education that is as close to free as is ‘practicable’…. Read More

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Pat McCrory 4Let’s hope Gov. Pat McCrory’s latest statements on teacher pay (namely that he wants a “long-term strategy” that will lead to pay hikes for all teachers in both K-12 and higher education) reflect an attitude and policy shift for the administration rather than just another example of the governor talking out of both sides of his mouth and telling an audience what it wants to hear in measured and backtrackable terms.

It’s got to be one or the other, however, because it certainly isn’t what McCrory and his allies have been fighting for over the last several years. Indeed, it’s one of the biggest and most under-reported scandals of present-day North Carolina politics that the governor and conservative legislative leaders have repeatedly been allowed by a distracted news media to lament the fact that teacher salaries have been essentially frozen for years.

Earth to Governor McCrory, Speaker Tillis and Senate President Berger: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

At a time when we should be boosting investments to ensure that the Tar Heel state can compete for good-paying jobs in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, our legislative leaders have taken a different path. Our prized public 4-year university system serves as an example.

Since 2008, state funding on a per student basis within the UNC System has been cut by nearly 16 percent when adjusted for inflation. Managing these funding cuts have meant reducing course offerings, which can prolong the time it takes students to graduate; reducing academic- and student-support services; and steady tuition hikes. For the 2014 academic year, the average tuition and fees cost with the university system is around $6,100, up from around $4,400 in 2008 – an increase of nearly 40 percent.

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