Shift in standards
Forty-eight states, including Georgia, have recently signed on to the new curriculum known as the Common Core State Standards. These standard will increase the learning levels required for math and English classes.
In the 2012-13 school year, math classes at Clarke Central High School will change. “Instead of Math I, II, III they will be known as Coordinate Algebra, Analytic Geometry and Advanced Algebra,” CCHS Assistant Principal Sheila Dunham said.
“I believe that CCSS are going to be in-depth and engage the students more,” Clarke Central High School Principal Dr. Robbie P. Hooker said.
The CCSS standards are designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that students will need to be successful in college and careers. The Georgia Performance Standard courses, courses within Clarke Central High School that are based upon the GPS, will funnel through with CCSS courses until all students are being taught under the CCSS.
“Right now students are taking Math I, Math II and Math III and those will continue using (the GPS standards) for the students who have already started in one of those classes,” Dunham said. “But the new freshmen that have not had any high school math classes yet will start with the CCSS-based classes. Instead of Math I, II and III they will be known as Coordinate Algebra, Analytic Geometry and Advanced Algebra.”
These new standards, will replace the Georgia Performance Standards and will outline more specific goals.
“Before, when we got the (GPS) standards, we had to ‘unpack it.’ We had to figure out what each standard meant,” CCHS Instructional Specialist Dr. Linda Boza said. “Now we get these standard sheets — one per standard — and it tells you what skills or concepts the students need to have, strategies for teachers, an example task and the vocabulary a student will need for this one standard.”
In English courses, the CCSS states that students should read more nonfiction as they get older in order to prepare for material they will likely be required to read in college.
“(Researchers) have discovered that there is a gap between the level the textbooks we read in high school and the level of the text in college,” Boza said. “We are going to make sure that what we do with the text is very rigorous to bring students up to the right reading level.”
In math, the amount of total curriculum standards will almost double. This, in turn, will result in more testing for students. Students will continue to take the End-of-Course Tests, along with the addition of CCSS summative tests. According to CCHS Assistant Principal Sheila Dunham, the CCSS will prepare students for rigorous college work. For example, student’s presentations will be graded more on how students express their opinions rather than the concepts on which they base their opinions. According to corestandards.org, the CCSS will better prepare students for college rigor as well as work in the 21st century.
“The jobs that students are being offered today (are) completely different than they were two or three years ago,” Hooker said. “So these standards are preparing kids for that.”
Similarly to the International Baccalaureate program, the CCSS will encourage students to think more globally and take different perspectives on more wordly matters as well as prepare them for 21st century work.
“Some of the (CCSS) and IB standards go hand-in-hand. Both are more rigorous and require more student involvement,” Hooker said. “I think we are implementing the (CCSS) at the right time with our IB program.” Although the results of implementing the CCSS may lead to success, Boza also foresees some adverse effects.
“There will be a lot of work for teachers. Whenever you teach something for the first time it requires a lot of time and effort and there is always the danger of teachers getting burnt out from all the work,” Boza said.
CCHS English department teacher Sharon Barnes believes that as long as students are learning the skills they need to succeed in the course.
“Regardless of whether its Quality Core Curriculum or GPS or CCSS I think we need to be sure that it is the basic stuff that students need to be successful in whatever the content area is,” Barnes said.
In the past many teachers and administrators were unsteady when new standards were implemented. With the CCSS, both Boza and Dunham forecast satisfying effects.
“It was just like (when) we implemented GPS — there will be some negative affects and it will take a while for students teachers to get into it,” Hooker said. “But once the teachers get into it they will start saying, ‘Okay this is better for our kids.’”