Common Core Customized: Triangle School Districts Implement State Standards

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Triangle public school systems — along with the rest of North Carolina’s public school systems — will fully implement the Common Core State Standards this school year, but each district has flexibility to make some customizations. Here are a few of the unique features three Triangle school districts are offering:

Wake County Public Schools

–         Curriculum Management Application System – CMAPP is a password-protected website created by WCPSS offering online support for teachers pertaining to any class in the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Staff continuously updates CMAPP to reflect changes in the curriculum.

–         Regional professional development – Regional training for implementation of the CCSS covers all subjects. Teachers who aren’t able to attend receive training at another time or via another method, such as online. “We will continue to do training/regional meetings throughout next year as well, and what we’ll try to do is stay a quarter ahead,” Steidinger says.

–         Benchmark assessments – High school students on the block schedule will take two assessments on tested subjects per semester. Grades K-8 students will take three benchmark assessments in reading and math throughout the year, while fifth and eighth grade students will take four science assessments, which are arranged by transferrable units and labs shared between classes. “In reading and math you can do a cumulative benchmark, whereas in science you can’t,” Steidinger says.

–         Plus = Honors. WCPSS has added “Plus” to a course name to indicate it is an advanced option for middle school students, or an honors course for high school courses.

–         Math acceleration – For the 2012-13 year only, WCPSS students who previously took compacted fifth/sixth grade math in fifth grade will take Common Core Math 7 Plus in sixth grade. WCPSS will supplement those students with curriculum they will miss by skipping Common Core Math 6 Plus. WCPSS is grandfathering in those students who are currently single-subject accelerated, but will not add any new students until the school system completes a comprehensive review of the academically/intellectually gifted plan, which will address all levels of service and appropriate criteria for accessing each level of service.

“We have not had criteria for single-subject acceleration in the past,” Steidinger says. “That’s not a system that’s effective.”

Wendy Carlyle, director of the AIG program for WCPSS, says the AIG plan and program review is required every three years by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

“Various stakeholders will be involved in reviewing our current plan and program services as we also work with the content of Common Core to seek the best possible ways to serve our highly capable and gifted students,” she says.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

–         Contract with the Institute for Learning – CHCC Schools have contracted the Institute for Learning, based out of the University of Pittsburgh, to support implementation of the CCSS. Known for its history of research and evidence-based learning systems, the IFL recently aligned with the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers to develop prototype assessments and instructional tasks for the CCSS for English language arts.

–         IFC professional development – CHCC plans to embed IFL Disciplinary Literacy and Content-Focused Coaching (CFC) as part of its professional development of teachers. “CFC supports this belief as it is not focused on generic teaching skills; rather it focuses on subject matter explicitness,” says Magda Parvey, assistant superintendent for instructional services.

–         Benchmark assessments – CHCC Schools will work with the IFL to develop units of study and assessment tasks that evaluate students’ progress on CCSS activities throughout the school year.

–         Math acceleration. At the middle school level, the school system will offer “compacted” Common Core math classes for students who prove to be mathematically gifted. CHCC Schools will continue to offer “Honors” math options at the high school level.

“What this means is that students will cover more topics in a shorter amount of time,” says Magda Parvey, assistant superintendent for instructional services for CHCC Schools. “This is a small percentage of our students at the middle school level. Due to the newness of the Common Core, we will be monitoring how all of our students perform on Common Core tasks, with support from the Institute for Learning, and then will make further decisions based on those results.”

Durham Public Schools

–         Regional Education Service Alliance training – In addition to working with NCDPI, DPS will participate in trainings provided by RESA and other conferences, symposiums and seminars.

–         DPS professional development – DPS devoted two two-week summer teaching and learning institutes to CCSS training last summer, as well as one full day of its Summer Leadership Institute.

–         Benchmark assessments – DPS will continue to use its formative assessment system, a component of the system’s Teaching and Assessment for Learning model. The system will also use next-generation assessments for intermittent unit checks and selected assessment item banks aligned with the new standards for quarterly assessments in selected grades and courses.

Check the following websites to learn more about how other Triangle school districts are customizing their CCSS curriculum.

Orange County Schools:

Johnston County Schools:

Chatham County Schools:

Learn more in Common Core State Standards Come to North Carolina Schools.

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