With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and N.C. Essential Standards this year, administrators in Clinton City Schools have been working hard to make sure their educators will be ready when students return to the classrooms later this month.
To that end, administrators from every school recently attended a two-day workshop in Greenville to prepare for the standards, although in reality, they have been preparing for its implementation for about a year now.
“The nice thing about Common Core (English, Language Arts and Math) is that it unifies North Carolina with all the states,” said Terrace Miller, assistant superintendent for student services. “If you’ve been in Iowa and they are Common Core, and if you move to North Carolina, as a student, we should be teaching the same objectives that they were teaching in Iowa or California or whatever. We may not be using the same materials, but the objectives should be the same.”
That student should be able to come to the Clinton City School System from another state and not miss a beat, Miller asserted.
“In the past, every state had their own curriculum and they would come in and either be behind or ahead,” she noted. “The Common Core should end that. The students should be able to come in and be on the same page with what they were doing.”
City educators got an early jump on the Common Core curriculum, having begun work on its implementation during the last school year, according to Lenora Locklear, director of Instructional Programs for the system.
“We were actually training teachers on the Common Core and N.C. Essential Standards already,” she explained. “We showed them the changes in the curriculum compared to our old standards that were developed in North Carolina many years ago. This year, we are going to actually train them and help them to see how we should be teaching Common Core.”
The move is a big one for the state — it is the first time in 30 years that all curriculum standards are being replaced in each subject and each grade one at a time. During the 2013-14 school year, the state will pilot a new accountability model that will have complete implementation of Common Core.
“In addition to the Common Core, which is nationwide, North Carolina also decided that we would make changes with the other core subjects, which are science, social studies, art and P.E., so every content area will have changes in the curriculum,” explained Locklear. “Yes, it is a lot, but the positive side of this is that we have really been encouraged to increase the rigor in our instruction. Another positive is that we are not going so wide with our curriculum, we are able to dig and build deeper concepts, so our children will understand more of the conceptual learning, which is very important.”
Locklear said in the past, students were taught many different concepts instead of zeroing in on teaching exactly what students needed to be taught.
“Yes, there are going to be changes in what we are teaching, but there will also be changes in how we need to be teaching children and higher level thinking and problem solving, providing more rigor to what the children have learned,” she said. “We have got to get them ready for 21st century. This is a way of making sure we are doing it.”
Thanks to the recent state mandated workshops, participating school administrators will come back and teach what they have learned to educators. Training on Common Core State and N.C. Essential Standards will continue throughout the year, which is a good thing, according to Miller and Locklear.
“We have had many, many initiatives over the past couple of years,” admitted Miller. “We have had all kinds of them, so now we have to sit down and think how do we put the ones we have been taught (over the years) and bring them altogether to fit in the Common Core. Because if you try and do all of it at the same time, it is overwhelming … It is like having a puzzle and we have to put those pieces together, one piece at a time.”
“Whenever you have change, it is obvious and we all know that change is difficult and this is a change,” she said. “Our goal is to make every teacher feel like they have our support in the classroom. If they have that knowledge and the resources it will happen with them.”
Community members and parents also need to play a role in the changes.
“The students need to understand, and we want the parents to understand what is taking place, too,” said Locklear. “If their child is taking different homework home, we want them to know why and we want them to form a dialogue with their teachers. I think that if we all work together and do this in stages this year, it will happen and it will be a success.”
Every child in every classroom in every grade level will be exposed to the Common Core learning at some point during this school year, an important step in the process, school officials noted.
“I think the big thing is that Common Core creates cohesion and it is preparing our kids for the 21st Century,” noted Miller. “This whole initiative is supposed to be preparing our kids for college or life outside of high school, so they are all coming out (of high school) ready. That is what we have been doing and we are working hard on implementing these standards so that every student in the system will be able to come out equally.”
For more information on the Common Core Curriculum, click on to www.clinton.k12.nc.us.
To reach Doug Clark cal 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to email@example.com.