Local News

Switch to Common Core Math delayed until next fall

The Sitka School District’s transition to the new Common Core Math curriculum has fallen behind schedule.

Despite an intensive planning schedule in all buildings, program facilitator Lyle Sparrowgrove told the school board Tuesday night (2-4-14) that students won’t see new classroom materials until next fall.

Just a few months later, in the spring of 2015, the state will test all students on the new curriculum.

Sparrowgrove said that the faculty and parents serving on the instructional committees in each building were doing “yeoman’s work” reviewing proposed materials. And they were starting from scratch.

“Just so you know, there is no blueprint for this entire process. There’s nowhere to find an outline or a guide. So, going in the dark would probably be the adequate way to say this.”

The Sitka School Board adopted the Common Core standards in 2012. The standards have been adopted now in all school districts in 45 states. The standards were developed after the National Governor’s Association pushed for a more coherent set of standards for K-12 students across the nation.

Sparrowgrove said that faculty committees in each building were focusing both on the classroom implementation of the standards, and ensuring that the transitions between grades and buildings would go smoothly for students.

The term for training teachers in new methods and materials is called “professional development.” Sparrowgrove said this was a huge component of the transition to Common Core.

“Professional development has never been more important at any other time — in the few years that I’ve been an educator — than right now. The standards are more focused, more rigorous. Most of the staff in this district are already working in it. They’re doing pieces and parts. So it’s not like they have to learn something totally brand new. They’re already doing cool stuff with it.”

School board member Tim Fulton asked about the impact of Common Core on Sitka’s homeschool program — called REACH. He wondered if parents who were concerned about the new standards could move their kids into homeschool and circumvent the transition. Sparrowgrove responded that the homeschool program would transition at the same time as the rest of the district, and its students would be assessed in May of 2015.

“We’re not sure what it all means yet, but they’re going to need all their materials to match the Common Core also.”

Compared with other school districts nationwide, Sparrowgrove felt Sitka was in a good position: not as far along as he would have liked, but not exactly behind, either.

Drawing on a basketball analogy, he said, “I don’t know if we’re at halftime, yet.”

Sparrowgrove reminded the board that anyone — parents and students — is welcome to attend the instructional committee meetings.

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