FORT COVINGTON - Teachers across local school districts are struggling to implement the new Common Core standards sweeping the nation.
Salmon River Central School principals all expressed a feeling of frustration being shared by administrators, teachers, and even students since the new curriculum has been implemented.
Theres a lot of frustration right now, theres a lot of confusion, and its trickling down to the students. Were doing the best that we can, Salmon River Elementary Principal Kevin Walbridge told school board members at their meeting this past week. I think as a school weve got to carry out the states mission, but weve also got to have empathy for staff, students, and principals who have to do everything.
Common Core state standards were released in June 2010 and adopted by the New York State Education Department in the summer of 2011. Theyve been implemented by forty-five states across the U.S. and three territories.
Many aspects of Common Core have sparked political controversy. Some dislike how theyve been implemented. Others call for less standardization in education, not more. Still others claim that forming national standards ignores the bigger issues of how inequality and poverty affect childhood education.
Those that defend the standards see them as an opportunity to bring the U.S. education system up to par with other countries. According to the Common Core website, the standards should produce students who actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement through critical thinking and cognitive reasoning.
The slogan of the movement is college and career ready, with a focus on research- and evidence-based learning and problem-solving more familiar to the private sector than classrooms.
St. Regis Mohawk School Principal Sharlee Thomas made an impassioned speech about the problems staff in grades K-5 have experienced already. The length of state teaching documents, grammatical and formatting errors within them, and phrasing inappropriate to students grade levels have all been particular hardships. Furthermore, the curriculum developed by the state is incomplete and changing even as its being taught.
Not having all the modules hasnt been helpful, said Chateaugay Elementary Principal Loretta Fowler.
Modules are the sections of that years curriculum, each encompassing an idea or concept that is taught through lessons.
The curriculum is also based on tiered system of learning: students in higher grade levels are taught based on the assumption that they have a working understanding of content from lower grade levels. The problem with this is simple. They dont.
Kids are getting frustrated, and its the third week of school. Its September, and we have kids that are frustrated, Ms. Thomas said. I think this is what we should be focusing on. This is the curriculum that your kids are learning.
There have even been problems getting required supplies to teach to the Common Core curriculum. Ms. Thomas says some texts are back-ordered until October, and theres nothing anyone can do about it.
Administrators from all schools have applauded their teachers for doing the best they can considering the problems they face.
We support our teachers. We know that its a hard road and we value them, said Salmon River Central School Board President Chris Nye.