By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The new Common Core curriculum means students will have to learn some skills at an earlier age and in much more depth.
It also means teachers will have to dramatically change the way they teach, with lessons that combine several subject areas and demand real-world skills.
As the Tupelo Public School District prepares for the transition, it is holding more than 20 Common Core Nights to explain the changes to its parents. Each of the district’s kindergarten to eighth-grade schools is holding at least one such night, with several schools holding separate events for each of their grade levels.
“These Common Core Nights will help us if parents notice a change in the rigor that is being taught,” said Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden. “It will help them understand why we are doing what we are doing behind the scenes.”
The Common Core is a new set of voluntary curriculum guidelines that were developed by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-six states, including Mississippi, have agreed to switch to the new curriculum, which was designed to better ensure that students are prepared for college and for the workforce when they graduate and to make U.S. students more competitive internationally. They also will create much more consistency in what is being taught in different states.
Like many school districts, Tupelo has begun implementing the new standards now to ease the transition. All Mississippi school districts must use them during the 2014-15 school year.
Tupelo schools hosted several Common Core Nights in August and September, and Lawhon and Pierce Street elementary schools hosted theirs on Tuesday night. Other schools have such events planned later this month.
“It was very helpful,” said Angelo Edwards, whose daughter is a fourth-grader at Lawhon. “I understand more of what she is doing now. I see how important the use of vocabulary is.”
Parent Leslie Lashley, who has children in first and fourth grades, said she gained a better understanding of how in-depth lessons have become.
At Lawhon, teachers spoke about how the ways they teach vocabulary, math, reading and writing have changed. They presented parents with worksheets and demonstrated examples of how they now introduce various concepts. They also mentioned ways parents can help their children at home.
“This is very important so parents can know what the Common Core expects and what their children are doing in the classroom,” said Lawhon Principal Corlis Curry. “It is more rigorous, and the important thing is students are engaged and learning is taking place.”
Remaining Common Core Nights
Thomas Street: Oct. 15; Joyner: Oct. 15, Feb. 4; Rankin: Oct. 15, Oct. 29; Lawhon: Oct. 16; Lawndale: Oct. 29.