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Teachers Prepare For Coming Common Core Tests

By Evelina Burnett | Published 16 Jun 2014 09:27am | comments

Mississippi students will be tested for the first time in 2015 on the new common core standards. As MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, some Mississippi teachers were back in the classroom themselves to get ready for the changes.

Eighth grade science teacher Brittany Furlan and math teacher Aimee Remillard work together at St. Martin Middle School in Jackson County. Last week, they worked together to present their ideas to other teachers at an education conference. Furlan says they’ve been using the common core standards for the past year and are feeling increasingly confident.

"Everybody's going to feel like they're a step behind for a good while, because the only way you're going to get there is with training, which is what's been helpful about this conference," Furlan says. "But I feel like the students are going to benefit overall because we're teaching them how to do it themselves. That's a very big difference from what we've been doing and common core - now they're reading it and breaking it down."

One project example: readings and videos about hurricane names and formations, then using math skills to track storms.

"It brings in history, science, math, English - everything is all together when you do common core stuff now," says Remillard.

Charlene Hooks is a fifth grade math teacher at Singing River Academy in the Pascagoula School District. She's been using a mix of curriculum and says she’s found students are inspired by the common core-aligned lessons.

"My students love it," Hooks says. "They could tell the difference in whether it was a common core day, or it was just back to the MCT2 way. So it was like, 'yes, common core today!'"

But Brenda Johnson, a sixth grade resource/special education teacher at Vicksburg Intermediate School, says she’s found the common core lessons to be disappointing and worries about how her students will do on the tests next year.

"I deal with struggling students, so the common core is now going to require them to evaluate and explain questions - which a lot of my students still have trouble forming sentences," Johnson says. "So it is going to be a bit overwhelming for us in the classroom."

Mississippi adopted common core standards in 2010 and schools have been transitioning to them over the past few years. Tests aligned to the new standards will be given at the end of the coming school year.

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