Tough Standards for Small StudentsBy Annie Gilbertson | Published 29 Jun 2011 04:19pm |
Mississippi's youngest students are going to see a big change this fall. Teachers gathered in Pearl this week to discuss revised standards for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade.
Allison McNeill is a Kindergarten teacher at Raymond Elementary School. In the past, she could have just read a story to help students improve reading comprehension, but now she'll have to relate the material to other sources of information.
"For example, if you’re reading a story about a talking lizard, she (the teacher) brings different informational text in just to tell different things about lizards so that the children understand better," she said. "You know, the little, fun stories you’re reading to them, they understand those better."
In the past, every state came up with its own standards. Now, Common Core will be setting standards for most states in the nation, so Mississippi will need to become nationally competitive. And they have to do it by 2014.
The focus of these new standards is less about having each child know the same facts and more about each child being able to problem solve and think critically.
"What we’ve typically done in our country is try to get everything we can think of into our curriculum," said Dr. Lynn House, Deputy State Superintendent. "We add and add and add until we have a curriculum that, as we say, is a mile wide and an inch deep."
House said teachers have to prepare students to think more critically to push pass that inch deep mark. That way, when 2014 comes around, students will be ready for the new tests.
The last time standards changed, there was a sharp drop in test scores. What is taught and what is tested doesn’t match up right away. This time, Mississippi Department of Education is allowing for a buffer. Students will start learning in a new way this fall, but won't be tested for another couple of years.
Reworking a foundation isn't easy, which is why MDE has decided to start with the youngest students. Eventually all grades will see reform.
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