Common Core gets moving

Published 12:15 am Thursday, January 26, 2012

VIDALIA — The wheels of the Common Core State Standards are in motion for the Concordia Parish School Board.

Teachers, administrators and staff of all parish schools will be attending workshops on the Common Core State Standards this week and next week.

The Common Core State Standards is an effort led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to establish a single set of clear educational standards for English-Language Arts and Mathematics that states can share and adopt.

The main goal is to indicate what a student should know and be able to do in a specific grade or course by the end of some time period in all participating states.

Dr. Rhonda White Wilson is in charge of Common Core Standards for the parish and said the workshops are part of an awareness campaign to inform each school and staff of the changes that are ahead.

“I think (the schools) are optimistic about it and at the same time very concerned because they want to know what they need to teach,” Wilson said. “Some of that information we just can’t put that in their hands because we don’t have it yet.”

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Standards in July.

Louisiana plans to implement the standards into certain grades by the 2013 – 2014 school year and have the standards implemented into all grades by 2014 – 2015.

Kindergarten and first grade will see the first Common Core changes as early as next year.

From there, changes will move up the ladder starting with second grade and move up until full implementation in grades K through 12.

Wilson said apart from the final completion date, the state issues other timelines and deadlines the parish must meet.

“By January, they want us to give all the information to the faculty of all the schools, which is what we’re doing now,” Wilson said. “By the end of March, we hope to meet with all our ELA and math teachers.”

Director of Academic Programs Paul Nelson said the timeline for implementing the standards into all grades is slightly aggressive.

“I certainly support the idea for common core standards and think it’s great that everyone will be learning the same thing across the country, but it just seems to me like we should have a longer timeline,” Nelson said. “It should be a marathon, not a race.”

Despite a short deadline for such a large overhaul in curriculum, Nelson said the board will work diligently toward meeting the deadline.

“The decision has been made higher up and passed down, so we’ll get it done,” Nelson said.

As of this month, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

Wilson said the ability to have the entire country on the same page regarding curriculum and lesson planning could be extremely beneficial.

“Right now every state does their own thing, which isn’t good if you have a student moving to another state who has to repeat or make up work,” Wilson said. “This way we would be teaching the same thing in Louisiana in the third grade as they would be teaching in Mississippi or Arkansas.”

Another plus, Wilson said, is that teachers will be able to focus on certain subjects at a time rather than juggling multiple subjects daily.

“(Teachers) have told us that they’re trying to teach too many things at one time, so we’re hoping that this will help them focus on certain subjects at a time.” Wilson said. “We’ve found that if we teach a few things, but teach those really well, the students learn and absorb the material better.”

Monterey High School had its workshop last Wednesday.

Ferriday schools and Ridgecrest School will have their workshops on Friday.

Vidalia schools will have their workshops on Tuesday.

All schools have a 12:30 p.m. dismissal for its corresponding workshop day.