New core will require adjustments

Dec. 10, 2012 @ 12:41 PM

Most local teachers say they’re prepared to teach the new state common core curriculum, according to a recent survey conducted by the school district.
But at the same time, teachers want more planning time, better materials and more time for students to adjust.
The Guilford County Board of Education learned recently that about 70 percent of nearly 1,200 teachers surveyed feel “somewhat” or “completely” prepared to teach the Common Core State Standards in their schools. Common Core standards define what students should be learning in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level so they can graduate fully prepared for college or a  career. The new program also is aimed at helping parents, students and teachers see the direct link between what is taught and what students are expected to do.
“The new curriculum is in the best interests of our kids,” said Alan Parker, principal of Southwest Guilford High School.
Some educators complain of being overwhelmed. The new standards change testing, curriculum and teacher and school assessments all at the same time.
“The pace of the change is overwhelming for some. We’ve had changes like this before, but not all at the same time,”  Parker said. “We don’t know what the new state tests will be. We have new tests in different grades we did not have before.”
Some parents also have complained to the school board that students lack the resources to learn the material. Some students take home worksheets with no examples on how to work a problem, parent Linda Mozell and others have said. 
“We’ve not had all the resources we’ve needed before,” Parker said. “Now we don’t have the applicable texts.  There are not lessons in the texts we have to use every day.”
Beth Folger, chief academic officer, called on the school board to advocate with legislators for textbooks to match the new curriculum, more development time for teachers and more half days teachers can use to develop lessons.
“A state delay of the accountability model would take a lot of pressure off,” Folger said.

Survey

Standards: Nearly 70 percent of teachers agree that Common Core standards will lead to improved learning.

Challenges: Nearly half of teachers say that students’ prior knowledge and more aligned textbooks are challenges teachers face with the new curriculum and nearly 40 percent say students need more time to learn the standards.

Preparations: About 35 percent of teachers say access to assessments and resources and more information about instructional strategies would help them.

Supervisors: Among 1,043 principals, assistant principals and curriculum specialists, nearly 80 percent feel completely or somewhat prepared for the new curriculum and nearly 80 percent agree they feel confident about their ability to identify instructional practices that reflect new curriculum standards.