NASD contracting for revamped curriculum

Published 12:02 am Saturday, April 26, 2014

NATCHEZ — A group of curriculum-writing specialists will join Natchez-Adams School District teachers and administrators this summer in revamping the district’s curriculum to the Common Core State Standards.

The district’s board of trustees approved a $5,800 expenditure to have members of the Bailey Kirkland Education Group partner with the district to revamp its curriculum this summer.

Beginning in August with the new school year, the district’s curriculum must align with Common Core, which is a set of nationally adopted standards expected to be more rigorous and provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn.

Email newsletter signup

Mississippi adopted the standards in 2010 with the goal of having them fully implemented in kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and math by the 2014-2015 school year.

Deputy superintendent Tanisha Smith told board members Friday morning during a specially called meeting the Bailey Kirkland group, which is based out of Ridgeland, is necessary to assist teachers in the switch to full Common Core curriculum.

Teachers rewrote the curriculum last summer to implement some Common Core material but also kept Mississippi Framework Standards in the curriculum to help students perform well on assessments in May. Next year’s assessments will be fully based on the new Common Core standards.

Smith said many teachers still expressed concerns of not having a full grasp on the standards.

“This year, we had to have one foot in the (Mississippi Curriculum Test 2) door and one foot in the Common Core door, because we wanted to move our scores up,” Smith said. “We had to straddle the fence, so teachers are still not as comfortable with Common Core standards in order to write a sound curriculum.

“We don’t want to ask them to do something they’re not comfortable with, and the more we looked at it, we realized this group has the knowledge base to help us.”

Smith said the group would take the curriculum nearly 30 teachers and administrators wrote last summer, dissect the material and rewrite it to align with the standards.

Group representatives will visit the district for four days in the summer to discuss the changes with teachers and administrators, who will then kick off their own curriculum writing project and professional development projects this summer.

The district’s curriculum writing project will seek to update curriculum guides, standardized lesson plan formats and sample assessments, among other things, for prekindergarten through 12th grade.

Board member Thelma Newsome expressed concern in handing over a rewritten curriculum with no guidance on implementation.

“I don’t want to waste a summer and try to force something the group just handed over and said, ‘Here, this is what we’ve done,’” Newsome said. “I’m trying to find out if they’ll be involved in the rewriting and actually look at what needs to be done with our teachers.”

Smith assured Newsome and the other board members the group would walk teachers and administrators through their changes and reasoning behind their changes.

“They won’t just hand us the corrections, they’ll show us everything they’ve done,” Smith said. “And if we don’t agree with some of the changes they’ve made, we don’t have to make them.

“They’re more well versed and have gone all over the United States meeting with groups about Common Core, so they have a lot to bring to the table to offer us.”

Superintendent Frederick Hill said after the meeting he thought the group’s involvement would be valuable for the district.

“These people have been involved with Common Core since the beginning,” Hill said. “Our teachers are struggling, so this will help us out in the long run.”