05/15/11 — Curriculum will require more writing of students

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Curriculum will require more writing of students

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 15, 2011 1:50 AM

Parents and students should expect a lot more writing in all subject areas as Wayne County Public Schools joins N.C. and 47 other states that have adopted new curriculum standards, officials say.

"The curriculum will be changing as a transition in the next couple of years with accountability and parents really need to be aware of what their children will be taught by grade level," said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

"The other thing that's important is that the transitions from schools to schools, school systems to school systems and from state to state will be much easier for children."

Dr. McCullen explained the rollout plan for the new N.C. Standards and Assessments at the recent school board meeting. The state, she said, continues to operate under the "standard course of study," but is in the process of adopting the "essential standards" and "common core" initiatives approved by the state Department of Public Instruction in February and June 2010, respectively.

"Since the summer of 2009, there has been lots of input from the states, teachers and feedback groups," she said. "There have been lots of drafts. North Carolina has been on a five-year cycle -- they develop curriculum every five years, with textbooks adopted the next year -- but these things are changing now and I wanted (the board) to be aware of this."

As of June 2010, the common core initiative began in the areas of English language arts and math. In February of that year, the essential standards were adopted for science.

Explaining some of the components, Mrs. McCullen said that students can expect the texts to be more complex, with a balance of literature and informational texts and a direct link to college and work readiness among the components. The format is also a "vertical progression" from kindergarten through 12th grade, she said.

"Some of these modules will be online and some of it will be face to face training for our teachers to learn how to teach this," Mrs. McCullen said.

Educators in the district have been on a year-long professional development opportunity this year. Every certified teacher in N.C. is required to take the online assessment, she noted.

"Basically, we're still teaching the standard course of study and still assessing the standard course of study," she said. "But for next year, 2011-12, we'll still be teaching the standard course of study and still assessing that in most areas. However, we have to train our teachers to be ready."

The goal is to have the new standards in place by the school year 2012-2013.

More information on the new standards can be found online at www.ncpublic schools.org/acre/standards.