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Sweet Home, Oregon
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March 14, 2012     The New Era Paper
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March 14, 2012
 

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1F i" r- - March 14, 2012 VOUR COMMUNITY Page 5 Photos courtesy of Michelle Keene Celebrating Dr. Seuss Supt. Don Schrader, above, and teacher Dan Swanson, right, read to Holley School stu- dents during Dr. Seuss Day celebration activities on March 2. ii  "iii :i! New standards pose new challenges for district By Sean C. Morgan Of The New Era The days of CIM and CAM, benchmarks, state assessments, OAKS and 21st Century Schools are passing on as the state and Or- egon school districts begin imple- menting federal standards called "Common Core Curriculum." This year's eighth-grade stu- dents will take a new test and work under the new standard. School District 55 is already busy preparing to meet the new standards, and next year teachers will spend time on Fridays working on them. "Most of the states have adopt- ed them," said Supt. Don Schrader. The new test is called "Smarter Balanced." Graduation require- ments have changed over the past few years, increasing the number of required language arts and math credits, this year's juniors must have four credits of language arts and four credits of math. Along with that, they must pass an essen- tial skills test, OAKS for now and Smarter Balanced in the future. The standard does not differ significantly from previous bench- marks, but it rearranges things and educators are changing the way they instruct students. For example, since the 1990s math instruction has been divided into five different strands, such as algebraic relationships, measure- ment, statistics and number sense, Schrader said. More recently, the National Center for Teachers in Math has developed a new way to teach math, along with more precise standards. The new method has de- veloped focal points that narrowed the standards, he said. Curriculum at each grade level is articulated based on the standards. Education is always changing, Schrader said, and Common Core is the next change. Common Core will require educators to teacher seventh-grade material in the fourth grade, and it will step up the rigor a lot. It will take a few years to get the standards articulated among the grades, he said. The new approach emphasizes "concepts" that build on each other to create a scaffold- ing for more advanced concepts. Language arts is shifting too, Schrader said. Teachers have al- ways known that as students move up grade levels they must become more proficient at locating and comprehending information. And teachers are already train- ing students to read more techni- cally, he said. That skill is how kids across the world access everything, from social studies to science. When Schrader started teach- ing in California in the 1980s, educators had dumped everything in pursuit of "whole language," he said. The local superintendent was run out of town, and test scores were dropping down the tubes. The industry threw out the basics and at- tempted to develop literacy simply by reading books. Students weren't learning flow to analyze what they were reading. The new approach is much more balanced, building on basic skills to teach reading and writing, he said. They require students to develop an academic vocabulary and write about what they read. They must find evidence for what they write in what they read. The approach to language arts is a philosophical change that en- sures children are prepared for col- lege or other careers, Schrader said. Educators want children to read for fun, but they also want them to be able to read more technically. When they go to college, they need to be able to locate information and use it as the basis for writing papers. "What any standard does is just narrow the focus," Schrader said. "We know what a fifth-grader should know by the time they leave the fifth grade. People get worried that what we're doing is 'teaching to the test.'" That's never been the case, he said. Standards show whether stu- dents are learning and improving academically. When a student leaves the third grade, the fourth-grade teach- er should be confident that the stu- dent knows what he or she needs to know going into the fourth grade. "But without these standards, how do we know?" he asked. While Schrader was teaching in California, Oregon was devel- oping a pretty good system that other states were using as a model for their own satewide standards, he said. "They were ahead of the game. I thought Oregon was kind of leading the way." "It used to be, everyone was on their own." With a statewide standard, stu- dents should be able to leave move from one district to another and be on the same page as the other stu- dents, he said. A national standard means a student could leave Arizo- na for Oregon and be on the same page. Different districts are in dif- ferent points of progression as they implement the Common Core Cur- riculum, Schrader said. Gresham- Barlow has already implemented it in kindergarten through fifth grade. "Right now in Sweet Home, we've met with our leadership team, and we've put together a framework," Schrader said. Next year, having Friday open will re- ally help the teachers, and the first several Fridays are scheduled to provide training and implement Common Core standards into the curriculum. Next year's .freshmen will take the Smarter Balanced test in their junior year, and they'll have a second chance their senior year, said High School Assistant Prin- cipal Keith Winslow. The current OAKS test allows three chances throughout the year. The new test will allow only one per year, and the students will need to prove competency in essential skills us- ing the test to graduate. It is 250 minutes long, but can be taken in several sessions. This year's kindergarten stu- dents will be the first ones not to use the OAKS test at all, taking their first Smarter Balance test in the third grade, Schrader said. While changing curriculum, the district will need to accomodate older students who are working un- der the current standards, Schrader said. If, for example, seventh- grade lessons move to the fourth grade, there will be gaps for fourth- through sixth-grade students. "We want to make sure there are no gaps," Schrader said, and the district will need to build bridg- es for the students. "Teachers will have to be creative." Any time something like this comes up, people sometimes feel overwhelmed, Schrader said, but education is dynamic and always changing. With the arrival of the Com- mon Core Curriculum, the way is paved for the exit of No Child Left Behind and its Annual Yearly Progress requirements. NCLB is in a lot of people's minds a punitive measure that had its place but is long Overdue to be removed or rewritten, Schrader said. That's the sentiment of many lawmakers too. States are now applying for and receiving waivers from the AYP requirement, Schrader said. Oregon is applying for a waiver too, and President Obama has al- ready signed waivers for 24 states. While transitioning to Com- mon Core, districts are entering into achievement compacts with Gov. John Kitzhaber, Schrader said. Under the compacts districts must show that students are improving in math and language arts. In the compacts are specific statements about achievement. The compacts are simply promises, a sort of goal statement by the districts, Schrader said. While not necessarily one ad- opted by Sweet Home, Schrader said, the statements can be things like reaching an 80-percent gradu- ation rate by 2013 or 80 percent of a grade level meeting or exceeding benchmarks in math. / Sc:h,ool From page 1 when a holiday falls on Monday or students have Monday off. Those Fridays include Sept. 7, Nov. 16, Jan. 18, Feb. 22 and May 31. Teachers will general work every other Friday, spending their time in professional development activities. Christmas break will begin on Dec: 21, and classes will resume on Jan. 7. Spring break will run from March 25 to March 29. School will end on June 13 for students. June 14 is a grading dayl ..... The calendar 151 school days and 172 total contract days fo/ teachers. The calendar includes input from employee groups, said Don Sehrader. It may still be altered through board action. Present at the board meeting were Mike E. Adams, Billie Weber, Chanz Keeney, Dale Keene, Chairman Jason Redick, Mike Reynolds, David VanDerlip and Jenny Daniels. Kevin Burger was absent. In other business, the board: • Accepted the resignation of Robby Robinson, high school language arts teacher, effective at the end of the school year. • Renewed contracts with district teachers, but did renew a contract for Julie Thompson, a kindergarten teacher at Hawthorne. She will work until the end of the school year. • Hired Connie May as a .2 full-time equivalent Title I co- coordinator for the 2012-13 school year. She was .4 FTE. • Hired Jane Bubak as .6 FTE school nurse for the 2012-13 school year. She was .8 FTE. • Approved and appropriated a $537 IDEA grant to be used for instructional costs for kindergarteners receiving special education. • Appointed Leena Neuschwander as an at-large Budget Committee member. The district has two openings left on the committee. Call 367-7126 for further information. • Approved a trip for the football team to camp in Spokane, Wash. • Accepted the donation of miscellaneous exercise equipment from Connie Cross to the Sweet Home High School Transition Room. i i I/i i T!NG? We've Got You Covered[ • • Labels • Rubber Stamps • Color Copies • Business Cards-as low as $27 • Flyers , Design • Brochures The Quality & Convenience You Deserve! 1313 Main St. o 367-2135