Parents and community members had the opportunity to have a multitude of questions answered earlier this week when Clinton City Schools educators held one of several Community Information Meetings for K-12 parents. The program was entitled, “Changes Ahead…What You Need to Know to be Prepared,” and it ddressed the topics that included the new Common Core/Essential Standards curriculum, the new state assessments and Career and College Ready.
Lenora Locklear from the central office organized the program and various spokeswomen shared pertinent information for those in attendance.
City schools superintendent Stuart Blount was on hand to welcome and give some direction for the evening’s program. He encouraged all concerned parents to contact the presenters and their child’s school if there were additional questions following the presentations.
Locklear began the program by sharing that change was coming regarding how children are taught and how they are assessed.
“There is constant change in education to stay abreast of the latest information,” she stressed. “But we are experiencing many changes this year that will impact how we teach children and how they are evaluated for the future. Hopefully you will take from this meeting new insight into what changes are taking place and possibly how your child will be affected,” explained Locklear.
She shared that for the past 25 years the North Carolina curriculum has been the Standard Course of Study. Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the curriculum has switched to Common Core in reading/language arts and mathematics and Essential Standards for all other subject areas.
Shifts made in the English/Language Arts area are related to building knowledge of the students through the use of nonfiction and informational texts. Locklear stressed that reading and writing would be grounded in the evidence found in the text.
“A big concern for teachers and parents is in the area of regular practice with complex text and academic vocabulary. Complex text is related to text used by teachers that is above the student’s reading level that will challenge the student. The academic vocabulary is an exposure to words we hope our students will incorporate into their vocabulary thus expanding their ability to express themselves better in the 21st Century,” explained Locklear.
Mathematics has experienced shifts that will focus on a deeper understanding of mathmatical concepts and understanding. There will be a greater emphasis on coherence in which the students will think across grades and link to major topics within grades. The math programs will include more rigor. Rigor will expand and develop higher thinking skills where the work the students will be doing will be more challeging and they will be able to express what they are learning both in verbal form as well as written form.
“Common Core puts more emphasis on the use of knowledge. There will be less worksheets and more doing. This will affect all courses. Students will be engaged in collaborative experiences with each other, there will be more hands on type of learning experiences. They will have research and evaluate materials they are learning and then be able to assimilate it as to be able to use it in their lives,” said Locklear.
Other emphasis of Common Core include a greater input on real-word applications. How does this affect me? How is this going to help me in the future? More open-ended questions and problem solving that will require students to evaluate and determine best answers and solutions when there are multiple answers.
Testing changes for students were presented. The two accountability models to be used this year were discussed. Locklear pointed out that the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI), assessment is called READY. The North Carolina General Assembly has put into place an accountability mode that is based on an A to F rating. One major point made by Locklear is that there is no longer any exemption from exams. All courses will have an exam. The state is providing Common Exams in many subject areas. Students at Clinton High and Sampson Middle will be required to take these Common Exams in the spring. For courses that do not have a common exam, teacher generated exams will be required and they will county as 25 percent of the final grade for students at Clinton High School.
There will be Common exams for English I, English III and English IV, geometry, algebra II, advanced functions and modeling and pre-calculus at Clinton High. Other Common Exams at the high school will include earth/environmental science, physical science, chemistry, physics, world history, civics and economics, U.S. History, and occupational courses of study to include English I, English III and English IV, financial management, introductory math and applied science. English II does not have a Common Exam because it is part of the next generation assessments that also include algebra I and biology for high school students and English/Language Arts and math in the 6th and 7th grades and English/Language Arts, math and science for 8th grade students. Assessments will also reach down to 4th grade where English/Language Arts and math will be required and 5th grade will be assessed in English/Language Arts, math and science. Third grade will be assessed in English/Language Arts and math. For high school student the Common Exam will count as 25 percent of the final grade. Middle school students will be taking Common Exams in science and social studies also in both 6th and 7th grades. Students in the 8th grade will take the End of Grade test for science. Locklear stressed that other Common Exams are being developed for all the courses offered.
Locklear shared that the READY accountability model assessment had already started for this year with the eighth grade EXPLORE testing done in October and the PLAN testing for 10th grade students completed last month.
“The EXPLORE is a predictor for the Plan and the Plan is the predictor of the ACT which all our students will be taken March 5, 2013,” informed Locklear.
She did point out that because of setting the standards cannot be done until after the tests are scored, there will be a delay in the reporting of scores for tests administered this spring.
“Scores will not be available until October 2013. Students will be receiving two report cards. One will show an incomplete where we do not have the scores back and then once we receive the scores grades will be recalculated and the final grade will be determined,” explained Locklear.
Locklear provided resources for parents to learn more about these changes: Parent Guide to Student success www.ncpta.org and www.pta.org; For Common Core State Standards: www.corestandards.org or www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/standards; NCDPI homepage: http://www.ncpublicschools.org; North Carolina Department of Public Instruction READY: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/ready; N.C. Report Card: http://www.ncreportcards.org/src; NCDPI Accountability and Testing: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability.
Clinton High School counselors Amy Sarp and Kristen Lee and college advisor Toni Blount provided information for parents in regards to requirements for the UNC System course and graduation requirements. They also spoke about the benefits of students becoming involved in all aspects of school and becoming involved in community and church related activities that will increase their opportunities for college acceptance and scholarship possibilities in the future.
Sarp emphasised that these activities are vitally important and should begin at the elementary schools level and continue throughout high school.
Student government president high senior Lexi Valenti told the group that she wished she had been encouraged to have participated in more activities. She shared that she had an interest in sports and she concentrated too much on that one activity and now as a senior she sees the need to become a more well rounded student who is involved and experienced a variety of activities. Valenti also encouraged parents to allow their students to visit colleges and universities where they might have an interest prior to the time when they start applying. The senior stressed that it would have been very informative for her to have done that.
Lee stressed to parents to pay attention to their student’s social media activities.
“It is so important that students are now being examined for their social media reputation score. We have seen how information shared on Facebook has caused exceptionally talented individuals to miss out on potential college offers and scholarships because they had posted negative information on social media. Remind your students to tweet responsibly. Colleges and universities report that 70 percent of them are not looking at social media information on applicants from a moderate to high level in order to consider accepting students,” asserted Lee.
The counselors also reminded parents to instill in their students the importance of all tests that are given. The PSAT and other tests that are given are not just used for information but can be used for Governor’s School qualification and other opportunities for the students that score well.
In conclusion of the meeting, Blount encouraged parents to contact their child’s school for more information or call the central office or email the counselors to get needed clarifications and information. Amy Sarp, 11/12 grade counselor email@example.com; Kristen Lee, 9/10 counselor firstname.lastname@example.org; and Toni Blount, college advisor/scholars coordinator email@example.com; Lenora Locklear, director of Curriculum and Instructionm JLlockear@clinton.k12.nc.us or 910-592-3132 ext.1106.