The Common Core State Standards, a national school curriculum initiative known in this state as the Missouri Learning Standards, will go fully into effect in Rolla for the 2013-2014 school year.
Assistant Superintendent Craig Hounsom last week presented the school board with an update of the preparations for the new standards.
"It is not different from what we're doing. It is not a radically different approach," Hounsom said as he compared the Common Core with the Grade Level Expectations and Course Level Expectations that are currently being used. "They're structured the same," he said.
Hounsom said the Common Core State Standards that will be used across the country have been portrayed as another instance of the federal government telling local schools what to do.
Such is not the case, Hounsom said. The Common Core, which at this point is only for English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12, is a voluntary, state-led effort. The concept started with the National Governors Association, he said, not the federal government.
"We don't want federal intrusion into Rolla schools. That's not what's happening," he said.
The Common Core will be more "rigorous" and will require "higher order thinking," he said. The standards are "internationally benchmarked."
Goals of the Common Core are as follows:
• College and career readiness for all students.
• Lower remediation rates for post-secondary students.
• Consistency of standards for mobile populations.
• Capacity of sharing resources within and across states.
• Fewer, clearer and higher standards.
Hounsom went through standards for English language arts and math.
For English, there are "four strands": reading, writing, speaking/listening and language.
Each of the four strands has what are called "anchor standards" and the grade level standards are progressions that grow in complexity each year toward those anchors.
Missouri students will be faced with increased non-fiction emphasis in their reading requirements, although Hounsom assured the board: "We're not getting rid of great literature by any means."
There will be more integration of reading with science and social studies as students move from reading novels to reading about scientific concepts and historical events.
In writing, students will work on research, both short and focused projects and longer, in-depth projects, Hounsom said.
The emphasis will be "on argumentative writing based on reasoning, evidence and substantiation," he said.
To that end, opinion writing will extend down into the earliest grades, he said. Pupils, for instance, will have to write essays explaining why they like certain books, citing reasons that they can demonstrate and document from the text.
The standards on language emphasize a tiered vocabulary, recognizing "that students must be able to use formal English in speaking and writing, but that they must be able to make skillful choices about how best to express themselves."
Page 2 of 3 - For speaking/listening instruction, the focus on academic discussion will be in various settings, one-on-one, small group and whole class.
There will be "emphasis on both formal presentation and informal collaboration," he said.
Math standards for K-8 will be organized by grade level, and high school standards will be organized by conceptual category.
Hounsom said the standards for mathematical practice in the core standards include:
• Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.• Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
• Look for and make use of structure.
• Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
"Over the past two years we've done a lot of curriculum alignment," Hounsom said.
With the Common Core, there will be additional testing.
There will likely have to be some adjustment by deleting some current tests.
"The testing at high school is getting extreme," he acknowledged.
In other business or discussion:
•Nancy McWhorter was reappointed as the board secretary and custodian of records.
•The board accepted bids from Allied Bus Sales for $78,377 for a 71-passenger bus and $86,966 for a bus with a lift.
•Owing to a diminishing enrollment, the board approved a reduction in force of one full-time instructor in the auto body program at Rolla Technical Center. There are currently two full-time instructors. On a related vote, the board approved placing Ed Sederburg on unpaid leave for an undetermined time, allowing his recall.
•The board set a meeting at 7:30 a.m. June 28 to finish up the fiscal year's business. Evening meetings for the remainder of the year were also scheduled for July 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 5 and 19, Oct. 10 and 24, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12. Evening meetings usually begin with a closed session at 5 p.m., followed by an open session at 5:30 p.m.
•The board watched the monthly Internet program provided by the Missouri School Boards Association. Topics on the streaming video report included Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of tax cut legislation, amending of the Sunshine Law to allow schools to keep their emergency plans secret and the Oct. 3-6 MSBA conference at Lake of the Ozarks. The report can be viewed by anyone at http://www.msbanet.org/monthly-msba-board-report.html.
•The board passed the "consent agenda," which grouped the minutes, financial statement, bills for payment, hiring of support staff and substitute teachers, transfer of funds, declaration of surplus and obsolete property and changes in the summer school staff into one report that could be approved with no discussion.
•The surplus property approved in the consent agenda included the completed building trades house at 1709 Palmer Court, which will be advertised for sale. More information will be released later, school officials said.
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