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South Carolina's New Math Standards Depart Little From Common Core

South Carolina has replaced the Common Core State Standards with a new set of K-12 math and language arts standards developed by an in-state team of educators, my colleague Andrew Ujifusa reported last week

The team of writers is adamant the new standards, which go into effect this fall, represent "notable improvements over the common core." 

When Indiana made a similar move and overhauled its K-12 standards, the result was a set of benchmarks not so different from the common core. Did the same thing happen with South Carolina's new standards? 

According to the state's Education Oversight Committee, a quasi-governmental organization that oversaw the new standards, the answer is yes: The new South Carolina standards are 89 percent in alignment with the common core for English/language arts, and 92 percent in alignment with the common core for math. 

In math, though, among the few differences between the standards are two notable ones in high school.

The South Carolina standards divide the high school benchmarks by course (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, etc.). The common core simply divides them by topic (i.e., all the algebraic concepts are grouped together). Some educators have complained that's led to variation in how the courses are organized—for instance, standards being tacked onto courses where they might not make the most sense.

In addition, the South Carolina standards include precalculus and calculus courses. The common core goes only through Algebra 2, which some have contended is a weakness of the standards. The common core does, however, include "plus" standards that cover precalculus concepts. Those can be added to courses for enrichment, or possibly organized into a separate precalculus course, but they will not be tested.

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