Thursday, January 23, 2014
So what’s the difference between academic standards and curriculum?
Here’s how King Laurence – an Aiken School District’s associate superintendent – explained the new Common Core academic standards initiative.
During a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Laurence presented a brief video clip from the popular 1980s movie, “Hoosiers.”
The film – based on a true story – is about a tiny 1950s high school basketball team that goes all the way to the state title.
The players are nervous about the big college gym. Then the coach shows them the basket is 10 feet away and the foul line is 15 feet away – just like back home.
Still, it’s up to the coach to teach his players strategies to meet those standard distances, and that’s how Common Core works, too, Laurence said.
The standards are expectations, and curriculum is created to meet them, he said.
Common Core is a national, state-driven set of academic standards that will be fully implemented in 2014-15.
Administrators and about 1,000 District teachers have worked many hours on curriculum, strategies and materials. In turn, the teachers have returned to their schools to share their knowledge with other teachers, Laurence said.
Many standards and curriculum plans can be found on the School District’s website – acps.schoolfusion.us – by clicking on “Parents.”
During public participation, Aiken County resident Jet Beckum objected to the concept of Common Core.
He said the program will centralize education standards and assessments to every public school in America.
Its main purpose will make everybody suitable for a job, but that’s not the purpose of education, Beckum said. He wants to see more humanities classes, and believes Common Core will distract from the efforts of educators.
Following the meeting, George Hummert had a different perspective while talking with Laurence. A retiree, he was director of engineering at Phelon and worked at other firms, as well.
He has been a substitute teacher at Aiken High and South Aiken for the past four years. Hummert is especially excited that Common Core can eliminate the High School Assessment Program, also known as HSAP. For several years, it has served as high school exit exam.
“My point is the HSAP testing is so watered down, that it’s basically meaningless,” Hummert said. “They can take it five times, and yet it’s a state requirement. So I’m glad to see the Common Core coming in. I think it’s a good thing.”
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.
He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.