Common Core no more: District eyes another curriculum change

  • Monday, July 14, 2014

File Photo Berkeley County School Superintendent Rodney Thompson

Berkeley County students and teachers will have less than a year to pivot away from Common Core’s curriculum to a new state-developed standard’s curriculum.

South Carolina lawmakers and the state Department of Education are furiously working to develop a new set of standards that adhere to the federal guidelines but not through using the national standard called Common Core.

Berkeley County School District, like many districts around the state, has spent the last few years developing a curriculum to work within Common Core. The new standard will be implemented by the 2015-2016 school year but not finalized until January 2015.

During the July 8 school board workshop looking at the school year ahead, Superintendent Rodney Thompson told board members that, so far, the district has invested “millions of dollars” into a curriculum adhering to Common Core.

He later released this statement to the Independent:

“The district went through a two-year process of training teachers and writing curriculum to align to the Common Core State Standards that were adopted by South Carolina in 2010. Now, there are new standards being written that will be released in January of 2015 and we will have to go through the process of rewriting curriculum and providing professional development to teachers.

“For the sake of our students, we need stability in terms of the standards that are being taught in our classrooms across the state.”

Federal guidelines mandate students graduating from high school to be career and college ready. Common Core is one of the standards available to states to achieve that goal. In 2010, the state Board of Education agreed to move forward with that standard.

But a national and statewide mistrust of Common Core has fueled backlash from parents and constituents. Politicians rallied to change the state standards. One of the 2014 Republican Superintendent of Education candidates even made “Stop Common Core” a campaign slogan.

Incumbent Superintendent of Education Mick Zais, who did not seek reelection this year, is working with Berkeley County Sen. Larry Grooms to develop the new standards. Educators and interested parties are being encouraged to apply for a spot on evaluation and development teams before July 18. Applications can be submitted at ed.sc.gov.

Grooms released this statement on his Facebook page July 8:

“In order to have new standards implemented by August 2015, there can be no time wasted in their development. Development teams are scheduled to produce a draft of the new standards before the end of October. Evaluation teams will then spend the next several months making comments and recommendations regarding the new standards.”

Grooms said that the standards will adhere to the federal mandate.

“Our new standards, by South Carolina law, must be college- and career-ready so we’re not jeopardizing any federal funds that are flowing to South Carolina,” Grooms said.

He called Common Core “flawed methodology.”

“The new standards that will be developed will go back to a liberal arts type of education for English, language arts. And also, in mathematics, we will go to a type of math standard that does teach children how to have higher order thinking … that is not the goal of Common Core,” Grooms said. “The new standards will not be Common Core but they will meet the definition … I hope to be able to right the ship with standards written in South Carolina by educators in South Carolina and evaluated by South Carolina educators, parents, and business leaders.”

Grooms shot back at the district’s claim to have spent millions adhering to Common Core.

“I would hope that Berkeley County and other superintendents would have been following legislation moving us out of Common Core before they spent dollars on Common Core-compliance,” Grooms said.

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