Friday, December 15, 2006

Core Course Revamp or Train Jumping the Track?

NEWS RELEASES 2006-07 :: DECEMBER 8, 2006

The [North Carolina] State Board of Education yesterday approved a proposed core course of study framework that will guide high school course requirements beginning in 2008-09. Current seventh graders would be the first students potentially affected by this change.

This change would replace the current courses of study (college prep, college tech prep, career) from which students select their high school coursework. Graduates in the Class of 2011 could be the last group to graduate under the old courses of study framework, depending on the Board’s final action on this plan later this winter. The occupational course of study will continue to be available for students with disabilities if their individualized education program specifies it.

The proposed core framework requires that all freshmen entering high school in the fall 2008 participate in a 21 unit core course of study that will include a four-unit endorsement in a specialty area of their choice.

The new core course of study will require:

* 4 units of English
* 4 units of mathematics
* 3 units of science
* 3 units of social studies
* 2 units of a second language
* 1 unit of health/physical education
* an endorsement of at least four units in one of the following areas: Career-Technical Education, Arts Education, JROTC, Advanced Placement/IB, Second Language or other.

(The endorsement is in addition to the 17 specified core courses.)

State Board of Education’s approval of the proposed framework is a product of work done by its Ad Hoc Academic Rigor, Relevance and Relationships committee over the past several months. This committee also has indicated strong support for a course substitution opportunity, which would enable students to take a substitute course if that course would better serve their academic needs. A professional review team consisting of a teacher, counselor and administrator would decide these requests. Parents would be required to sign off on the substitute courses recommended for their children.

This winter, the Board will hold town hall meetings across the state to receive input and ideas from local educators, parents and community members about implementing the core course of study. In approving the proposed framework, Board members noted that a number of implementation details need to be finalized and that community input will be invaluable in that process. Possible areas for input include course substitution, the sequence of mathematics courses in light of 21st century skills and objectives of a foreign language study. The schedule of meetings is being finalized and will be distributed widely soon.

Other graduation requirements will continue to be in place. These include passing the five common end-of-course tests (Algebra I, English I, US History, Civics and Economics and Biology) and successfully completing a graduation project in addition to local graduation requirements.

For more information, please contact the NCDPI Communications and Information division at 919.807.3450.

After reading the above "proposed changes" in the core courses, I know why Dr. McPherson is retiring this July from his job in our district. I have a couple of two cents worth about these proposals. However, as a classroom teacher, I have to remember that teachers are not paid to have opinions; I do not want to sound negative or just come out has ask the obvious but HAVE THEY BUMPED THEIR HEADS? Challenge number one form my point of view is that alternative schools will need physical plan expansions by the 2008-2009 school year. Alternative schools, and all sorts of creative solutions will be needed if this proposed plan makes its way to the LEAs in our state. State wide, our dropout rates are horrible. How would the increase in "academic requirements" impact our current at risk students. Word is that the proposal would affect our current 7th grade students when they enter high school. Well, I teach a few 5th, 6th, and 7th graders and they are already so far behind academically, increased pressure probably will not have a positive impact on their academic success. They could well be the lost generation already. We have no factory jobs in our area. They have all been done away with. Jobs in textiles, tobacco, furniture manufacturing, plywood manufacturing, paper clip factory-- they are gone or on their last leg in our area. In view of these changes, it is easy to see we need to change schools. However, can we do it in two years? Can we afford not to?

With the exception of students with disabilities, every student will be required to complete four units of math including Algebra I-A, Algebra I-B, geometry and Algebra II.

Every student will be required to have two units (semesters) of a foreign language. Currently, only students in the college/university track are required to have foreign languages.
Cindy Williamson, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instructional services said that nearly everything surrounding the overhaul is still in the discussion stage; the final details will not be known until early next year.

The curriculum of every high school course will have to be completely rewritten to reflect the state’s new goals and guidelines.

New materials, resources and textbooks will have to be developed.

So, this is going to be interesting.

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