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NASD to rewrite curriculum for all grades

NATCHEZ — Teachers, curriculum specialists and other Natchez-Adams School District staff won’t get much of a summer break this year as 130 of them will begin working to rewrite the district’s curriculum for all grades.

Superintendent Frederick Hill presented the NASD Board of Trustees Thursday evening with a proposed curriculum-writing project that would help teachers connect educational theory and research to their classroom practices, while also working to improve student achievement.

The project, Hill said, was created after receiving the results of a district-wide curriculum audit and also to align the district with Common Core State Standards.

Through the Common Core State Standards, English-language arts and mathematics curriculum will be changed in Mississippi and 47 other states with the goal of setting clear educational standards that states can share and adopt.

The deadline for Mississippi to transition all grades into the state standards is the 2014-2015 school year.

But Hill said he doesn’t want NASD waiting until then to be fully implemented into the program.

“My goal is to get the entire district to go full common core in the fall of this year,” Hill said. “That gives us one solid year to work on the things that we need to work on before next year.

“We can’t wait.”

Currently, kindergartens through third-grade students in the district are already learning on the common core standards in ELA and math, Hill said.

Board member Thelma Newsome commended Hill for the project proposal and also the effort to get a head start on the state-wide implementation.

“There’s no use in us waiting until it’s right upon us and then we’re hollering, ‘Oh we’re not ready,’” Newsome said. “These are things we have needed for a long time, and I’m personally glad to see us moving forward with this.”

The project will target 32 content areas that will be dissected and rewritten by teams of curriculum writers, team leaders and editors.

The total staffing for the project consists of the following positions:

80 curriculum writers

20 team leaders

30 editors

All of those 130 positions will be assigned to employees already within the district who Hill said have a better feel for what can work within the district then someone coming from outside.

“We could go out there and purchase new curriculum, but it won’t be unique to the Natchez-Adams School District,” Hill said. “And when district employees take on a project like this, they become even more knowledgeable in the material that they will be teaching to students.”

The curriculum-writing project will begin on June 10 and last until July 10.

In other news from the meeting:

The board approved to change language within a district policy for student dress code after students were allegedly finding loopholes in the code.

The previous mandatory student uniform dress code stated that “no starter, athletic, or professional team logo jacket other than NASD issued athletic jacket or sweater (no pullover hoodies)” could be worn on campus during school hours.

Hill told board members, who were confused about changing the policy to read from “no pullover hoodies” to “no hoodies,” that students were arguing that jackets with a zipper — even though they had a hood — were not pullovers.

“They were saying if I have one with a zipper on it, it’s not a pullover,” Hill said. “Now it just says no hoodies.”

Board members chuckled at the proposal with board president Wayne Barnett and Newsome saying they remember being young and attempting to find loopholes in any rule possible.

“Children are smart, and if they can find a way to get around it they will,” Newsome said laughing.

The new dress code went into effect immediately after the vote.

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