BRASHER FALLS - A panel of St. Lawrence Central School administrators and teachers said Tuesday night that the Common Core is a work in progress, and theyre working with parents and students to help make the transition easier.
Speaking to an audience of nearly 20 community members, the panel said their ultimate goal is to make sure all students are on the same level playing field, and, when they leave St. Lawrence Central, are either ready for the rigors of college or the work force.
The real issue is when kids get to college now, theyre not prepared to go there. They dont have the skills to be successful in college, Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. said.
Facing a global educational system that was ahead of the United States, he said the implementation of the Common Core was one of the strategies being used to get U.S. students back in the thick of things.
With the new standards, elementary Principal Johnathan R. Hirschey said they hope to prepare out students to be ready for college.
He said students should be college-ready when they graduate, rather than needing remediation at the college to catch up.
We want to ensure every child is held to the same high standards and leaves with the same material, Mr. Hirschey said.
Another facet of the Common Core curriculum, the panel said, is that it would allow students to enter a new school district and learn the same material that was being taught at their previous district.
One of the big concerns from the audience, however, was the pressure on students who were seeing falling grades and in many cases were unable to complete their homework because they didnt know the proper answers.
Mr. Hirschey said at the elementary level they are taking a number of initiatives to keep students on track.
We really have taken to heart the changes that have come, he said.
Among their efforts was a refined Academic Intervention Services program for those who most need it, he said.
They also give students interim assessments to see who is struggling, so they can identify who needs to be provided extra instruction.
High school math teacher Michelle Huckins said students have the opportunity to receive another period of instruction to get help, and the district had also purchased an on-line resource that students and parents could use.
In addition, Ms. Huckins said, students who are successful with the curriculum also provide one-on-one tutoring.
Videos were another resource that could come in handy, according to Mr. Vigliotti and third-grade teacher Danielle Colterman.
YouTube is a great resource, Mr. Vigliotti said, suggesting that doing a search for Common Core would turn up a number of videos.
Mrs. Colterman said parents and students could also turn to the Engage New York website at www.engageny.org, where one section was devoted to parent and family resources.
The question iswhy werent those supports put into place before it was rolled out? Mr. Vigliotti wondered.
Responding to a question about what could be done with students who werent successful with Academic Intervention Services the first or second time, teachers said they would take whatever steps they needed to in order to get the student back on the track. But, they said, Common Core was still a learning process for them also.
Part of the problem is, the curriculum is still rolling out, middle/high school English teacher Tina Taillon said.
As a result, they are still in the process of figuring out how to teach the required material in the classroom, leaving less time to decide how they could teach it through the AIS program.
Teachers said that modules provided for the lessons were being adapted for their classrooms, rather than following them to the letter.
The modules are like a textbook. Theyre not gospel, middle school math teacher Gina Beaulieu said. I havent adopted the modules, Ive adapted them. I use them more as a resource. I take what I feel is best for my students. I dont use it as a script.
Some schools are using the modules script for script. Were adapting them now as a resource. Were not following that script, Ms. Huckins said.
Parents can access those modules at the Engage New York website, according to the panel members.
Concerns were also shared about students not being able to complete homework. But middle school Principal Christopher Rose said parents and students needed to adopt a new attitude - rather than try to finish the homework and get it wrong, circle what they didnt understand and bring it back to the classroom the following day for extra assistance.
Ms. Huckins said that students who used to finish their homework and would get 100 were now getting frustrated.
Have them bring it back so we can help them with it, she said.
And, teachers said, if all the students were struggling with the same lessons, they would slow down and take the time to re-teach the material.
Our goal is to get everything in before the state tests, Mr. Rose said.
Teachers said, based on what they had seen so far this year, the way they were presenting the Common Core was providing a more engaging environment for students.
If you disguise it and make it fun, they will get it, Mr. Rose said.