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March 11, 2013

State education curriculum on brink of legislative control

College and Career Ready Standards focus on math, language arts

(Continued)

School feedback

Cindy Wales is a third-grade teacher at Elkmont High School, and the county’s Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2011. She is a member of the CCRS implementation team, which has two principals, four curriculum specialists from the Central Office and 21 teachers from a dozen schools in the Limestone County system.

“As an educator, I support the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards. The new standards will help to ensure we increase the rigor and prepare students to enter college without the burden of remedial classes, and have them prepared for the workforce or military,” said Wales, who has taught for 21 years. “The disagreement is whether the supremacy of the state is protected in the current language of SB190. While there is no bigger supporter of the Alabama (CCRS), I, too, am concerned about what could happen if state sovereignty is not maintained specifically.”

She said the new math curriculum has been an adjustment for parents because they were taught differently to solve math problems. Wales said the CCRS standards stress critical thinking rather than computation and memorization.

“I think the rigor is there with these standards. It’s not just computation, and it’s knowing the how and where and why behind a problem,” said Wales as her students rotated among different reading activities Thursday afternoon. “It’s just better understanding for the students, and I feel so much better about my math instruction this year because we have stepped up the curriculum.”

Elkmont third-grader Paige Robinson, 9, whose favorite subject is math, described the math problems this year as challenging but enjoyable. She said her math class always begins with a reading problem.

“We always start math class with ‘Unlock the Problem,’ and it’s hard but fun to try and figure out the answer,” Robinson said. “And if we see a sunshine (logo) by a problem, then we know it’s going to be a higher-order thinking problem.”

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