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South Carolina Adopts Standards Intended to Replace Common Core

The South Carolina Board of Education adopted standards in English/language arts and mathematics to replace the Common Core State Standards at its March 11 meeting.

Last year, Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed legislation that required the state to develop new standards for the 2015-16 academic year. The common core has remained in place in the Palmetto State's public schools this school year. A team of South Carolina teachers and others have developed the replacement standards over the past year, and the state's independent Education Oversight Committee approved a draft version of the standards on March 9. The state board had final say over whether to adopt the standards.

Noting how the state education department gave the public an avenue on its website to provide feedback about the proposed standards, Julie Fowler, a state deputy superintendent for college and career readiness, told board members, "We have been so transparent in this entire process."

South Carolina is the second state to back away from the common core and replace it with new standards. Indiana was the first state to do so last year, although the general consensus is that the state adopted standards that are nominally new, but in fact very similar to the common core

"These standards are written to be flexible," board member Thomas Shortt said during the discussion before the vote.

So how do South Carolina's new standards look? Let's do a couple of narrow, side-by-side comparisons.

First, here are the common-core standards for the number system in the 8th grade:

CCSS8thGradeNumberSystem.PNG

And here's how the South Carolina standards deal with the number system for 8th graders:

SCStds8thNumberSystem.PNGBoth discuss the use of number lines when studying irrational numbers, as well as understanding the differences between rational and irrational numbers, and how all real numbers have a decimal expansion. The common core includes an explicit sample task for 8th graders when dealing with the number system, while the comparable South Carolina standards do not. 

Let's quickly drill down to the "expressions and equations" sections of the standards that deal with proportional relationships, lines, and linears equations. Here's what the new South Carolina standards set as expectations:

SCStds8thEquations.PNGAnd here's what the common core asks of students for its equivalent standards:

CCSS8thGradeEquationsLines.PNG

In the section of the standards dealing with radicals and integers, the common core includes explicit sample equations in the first standard.

CCSS8thGradeEquationIntegers.PNG

And here's how the South Carolina standards deal with radicals and integers. 

SC8thGradeEquationsIntegers.PNG

Both sets of standards utilize X2=P and X3=P as base equations for students to grasp. The common core specifies that students know that the square root of two is irrational, while the South Carolina standards don't use an explicit example of how the root of a non-perfect square is irrational.

In terms of domains within the 8th grade math standards, both sets of standards deal with the number system, as well as expressions and equations, functions, geometry, and probability. And both have either the same quantity of standards in each of those five domains, or a difference in quantity of just one standard in each domain. 

It would be misleading, of course, to leap to conclusions about just how similar or dissimilar the standards are based on a comparison of the 8th grade math standards alone, but a few patterns might be discernable. 

"Once you give them to us, don't take them away from us too fast," Fowler told board members, referring to the new standards.

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