District begins implementation of Common Core State Standards

By Kelsey Floyd

Mill Valley high school held a meeting to explain the district implementing Common Core in schools on Monday, March 26.

Ryan Fullerton, reporter

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Two meetings held recently at Mill Valley High School gave  the district the chance to announce a new program called the Common Core State Standards. Starting at the beginning of this school year, the district began implementation of the Common Core in the elementary schools, a program designed with the goal of finding better methods to prepare students for college and for when they have to enter the workforce.

Common Core has been adopted by at least 45 states and is endorsed by organizations such as Adobe, Microsoft, State Farm and Verizon. The district hopes for implementation to be complete in all schools by the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Currently, it is being used to improve methods of teaching math and English by establishing problem-solving skills and providing consistent education district-wide. Also, the district hopes to use it to develop interpersonal skills between students and also place emphasis on mastery of skills at one grade level instead of adding on to what a student learns in a subject each school year.

The problems presented to students are supposed to be more like problems they might encounter in the real world. Students will be taught multiple methods for solving these problems instead of just one way as they often currently are, which should succeed according to Riverview Elementary school improvement specialist Kelly Robinson.

“Their hope is that for all of these strategies, one of them will hook for a kid,” Robinson said.

Additionally, changes are being made to the current curriculum to make it more rigorous. For example, students will be mastering concepts in late elementary school that they wouldn’t normally learn until middle school. Intervention for students who are struggling to master concepts will be available.

District director of curriculum, instruction and assessment Kim Barney believes that the Common Core will be beneficial for students.

“We are committed to providing all students with a high quality education,” Barney said. “We will continue to monitor the implementation of Common Core, reflect and make quick adjustments as needed to ensure we meet the needs of all students.”

While they believe the Common Core sounds good theoretically, some parents have expressed concerns at the meetings that it will not work as well when put into practice, especially due to the increased rigor in the curriculum as well as with the transition from the old standards to the new ones, something fifth grade Riverview Elementary teacher Jill Roush is currently trying to work with.

“Right now, our biggest challenge is integrating the new Common Core standards while still teaching the current Kansas standards and we have to do that this year and we have to do that next year also,” Roush said. “I think it’s going to be more challenging for the kids.”

Barney is also aware of the drawbacks.

“Change is always difficult and implementing wide-spread change of this magnitude will be a challenge,” Barney said. “However, we are confident that through careful planning, proactive communication with parents, and continuing to provide teachers with quality professional development, we will be able to implement the Common Core effectively. Another challenge is helping parents understand the Common Core and how this will positively impact their students.”

Another informational meeting about the Common Core will be held at De Soto High School on Thursday, March 29. More information about the program is available at www.corestandards.org and the www.usd232.org/commoncore.

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