School’s out early Wednesday, teachers headed to class

Published 4:08 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

For those Andalusia parents wondering why their kids are getting out of school at noon this Wednesday, it’s so their teachers can go to class.

Superintendent Ted Watson reminded board of education members Monday that the early release day was approved so that teachers can learn more of what is expected of them under Alabama’s College and Career-Ready Standards, and said he’ll be asking for another “class day” for teachers in the second semester.

The standards are Alabama’s personalization of the Common Core Standards developed by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Those standards, Watson said, were designed

AHS principal Dr. Daniel Shakespeare said the move to the new standards from the old Alabama High School Graduation Exam requires a change in teaching styles.

“The old way required very passive teaching, or teaching to the test,” he said. “In moving to Common Core, the ACT would be the benchmark. Teachers are required to teach with more engaging, problem-based activities.”

To date, one teacher from each level has been going to day-long training sessions, and communicating what he or she learned back to their teaching peers. With the half days being added to the schedule, they’ll have more time to absorb the changes they need to make, he said.

While critics of Common Core have protested the standards loudly, claiming the standards are “the feds’ ” attempt to control education, Watson explained that because College and Career Ready standards are in place, states no longer have to comply with President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

“What happened was that thing (NCLB) was designed to come to an end this year, and all schools, and all kids had to be at 100 percent efficiency, no matter what the ability.

The state had to get a waiver and develop its own standards. The current standards mesh with those proposed by the Governors’ Association.

The standards guarantee teaching to a certain rigor, Watson said.

“It overhauls the evaluation system, and in 2015-16, that will grow teeth.”

It is in that year, the superintendent said, that teachers will be held accountable for students making a year’s worth of progress in a school year. A summative component of evaluation will be added, Watson said.