Several district administrators were in attendance to provide insight into the day-to-day implementation of the new state standards.
Common Core is a set of statewide curricular standards aimed at preparing students for college and the workforce. The Common Core assessment system will be in place by the 2014-15 school year.
The Common Core is a concept-based, integrative approach to education.
“Teachers are leading this,” said Kristin Simpkins, principal of Chelsea Intermediate School. “I think we’ve moved beyond compliance to real ownership.”
Grand Prairie Elementary School principal Eileen Nelson explained how the school is making changes in accordance with the new state standards. She said Grand Prairie is encouraging student engagement and transitioning from a knowledge and recall style of teaching to a style focused on application and analysis. For example, the school no longer conducts spelling tests, because Nelson said research doesn’t support it.
Several board members asked questions and requested further discussion of specific topics surrounding Common Core’s nontraditional approach to education.
“I don’t want kids being the only people teaching kids — I want teachers teaching kids,” said board member Christopher McFadden.
However, administrators expressed confidence in the new standards.
“There’s a place for explicit instruction,” said Simpkins. “We haven’t abandoned that.”
At Chelsea Intermediate, Simpkins said the school has restructured its schedule to have fewer transitional periods, so the students have longer blocks of instructional time. To align with Common Core, Chelsea Intermediate is also integrating reading and writing across other content areas.
Hickory Creek Middle School principal Kevin Suchinski said Common Core at the middle school level also includes the integrative approach. Under the new state standards, multiple math concepts are taught in the same class. Students are also reading more informational texts and articles, and fewer novels. With the implementation of Common Core, Suckinski said that earning straight As will be more challenging for students.
Special Education coordinator Carrie Clodi said that Common Core for special education students will include empowering students to lead lessons, and will encourage co-teaching and social thinking.
The board also approved the 2012 tentative tax levy at Monday’s meeting.
This year’s levy will be $29,429, 676, or $29,229,676, with a $200,000 proposed debt service fund abatement, according to an email from assistant superintendent Curt Saindon. With the abatement, the levy is a $4,252 decrease compared to last year’s district levy.
The board will hold a levy hearing at 7:10 p.m. on Dec. 10 in the Grand Prairie School boardroom. The final levy approval is scheduled to follow.
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