The new Common Core standards will lead to several curriculum changes in schools this fall. Examples include:
• Shapes introduced in kindergarten, instead of the first grade.
• Factoring, prime numbers, composites and adding, subtracting and multiplying fractions introduced in the fourth grade, not the fifth grade.
• Negative numbers introduced in the sixth grade, not the seventh grade.
• Solving inequalities and basic probability introduced in the seventh grade, not the eighth grade.
• Calculating the mean absolute deviation introduced in the sixth grade, not the ninth grade.
• Determining the volume of a sphere introduced in the eighth grade, not the 10th grade.
• Use of the Pythagorean Theorem to find distances introduced in the eighth grade, not the ninth grade.
In English/language arts:
• The function of adverbs introduced in the third grade, not the fourth grade.
• Abstract nouns introduced in the third grade, not the sixth grade.
• Specific verb tenses introduced in the third grade, not the fifth grade.
• Pronoun-antecedent agreement introduced in the third grade, not the seventh grade.
• Comparative and superlative adjectives introduced in the third grade, not the seventh grade.
New challenges await Bulloch County students returning to school this fall.
As part of the Common Core State Standards adopted by Georgia, and 44 other states, school curriculums have undergone major changes that will expect more, sooner from children than in years past.
Just a few examples of what students can anticipate: learning shapes in kindergarten rather than first grade, factoring and multiplying fractions in fourth grade instead of fifth, and being introduced to certain adjective and noun forms three years earlier than when traditionally taught.
The new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, which will roll out in August in English/language arts (K-12) and math (K-9), are designed to provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what is expected of students at each grade level.
The curriculum changes are being made to better prepare the country’s students for success after school.
“The Common Core demands higher rigor so that our students will be competitive when they graduate,” said Fran Stephens, the Bulloch County school system’s interim superintendent. “The state's goal for joining with other states in this curriculum is to provide more consistency for students moving from state to state and to raise the rigor and expectations for all students.”
Stephens said the Common Core curriculum will emphasize more informational texts, rather than just literature and fiction in language arts studies. The new guidelines will focus on reading, writing, speaking, listening and grammar. The literacy standards are designed to enhance science, social studies and technical standards, requiring students to read and write at high levels in all of their courses, she said.
New Common Core math standards will be very similar to previous standards, she said, “except at the high school level.”
“GPS (Georgia Performance Standards) math is integrated into math I, math II, math III and math IV, with each course containing strands of algebra, geometry, statistics, and trigonometry,” Stephens said, of the previous curriculum. “With CCGPS, we will return to discrete math, beginning with coordinate algebra in ninth grade. These discrete high school courses will be phased in one year at a time beginning next year.”
Common Core curriculum changes are also expected for science and, later, social studies; those changes are still a few years away, according to state education officials.
Stephens said teachers have already begun preparing for the new set of standards.
“Middle and high school teachers have worked this year in countywide Professional Learning Communities to learn the new standards and to incorporate them into their curriculum maps and assessments,” she said. “Elementary teachers worked in school-based PLCs to do the same. The state has provided webinars on the standards, and they are providing teaching guides, frameworks and model units for our teachers to use. Many of our teachers participated in additional professional learning provided by RESA (Regional Educational Services Agency), and we will continue to provide professional learning for them throughout the coming year.”
Most educators see the changes as necessary if students in the state and nation are to be competitive in a global society.
The help fund the transition, Georgia is receiving $400 million in federal Race to the Top grant funding.
Stephens believes the new set of standards will be of benefit to students.
“We are supportive of the changes and will work hard to implement them with fidelity,” she said.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.