By David Esteppe
With the recent announcement by the West Virginia Department of Education that many counties would revert to pre-common core teaching protocols, and many counties still deciding whether or not to proceed with common core or revert their curriculum to classic standards as the next school year approaches, Greenbrier County schools have made the decision blend the Common Core standards with a more conventional approach.
Greenbrier County Deputy Superintendant Catherine Thompson straightened the whole story out for the Mountain Messenger.
According to information available on the www.corestandards.org website, “State education chiefs and governors in 48 states came together to develop the Common Core, a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Today, 43 states have voluntarily adopted and are working to implement the standards, which are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to take credit bearing introductory courses in two- or four-year college and the workforce.”
The nation’s governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers, parents, school administrators, and experts in education from across the country provided input into the development of the standards. The actual implementation of the Common Core, including how the standards are taught, the curriculum is developed, and the materials are used to support teachers as they help students reach the standards, is led entirely at the state and local levels.
Despite the negative coverage in the national media about common core educational standards, Thompson relayed that the standards are actually the same education standards as classical education in the United States.
“The standards are good, strong standards asking for students to think and problem solve. What we are going to do in Greenbrier County after a year of following the common core structure and receiving feedback from teachers, parents and students, is reorganize the elements back into conventional form and yet deliver the common core objectives into categories that teachers are already familiar with,” she stated.
Thompson admitted that a weakness of how the common core initiative has been rolled out nationally is that textbooks are not yet written to follow the format. Subjects are still in a linear flow in current textbooks, where Common Core objectives tend to blend subjects via the curriculum. For example, math textbooks are generally written by category. You have basic math, algebra and geometry in their own books; but the common core curriculum has all three math categories being taught in unison as the subject matter relates. Teachers, students and parents sometimes struggle to understand the new way of delivery the objectives in such a format. Textbooks are written for general use around the country, not for individual states such as West Virginia. This allows for better communication amongst educators throughout states in the country.
Thompson also added that extensive research has been done to follow up at major universities, like the University of Virginia, to see if common core graduates were held back in the admission process. That has not shown to be the case, she said. Graduates from Common Core curriculums are doing just fine gaining admittance to major universities.
“The objectives in the Common Core curriculum are nothing but positive things,” Thompson said.
Visit www.greenbriercountyschools.org to stay informed about Greenbrier County public schools, including school board meeting dates.