By Lenny C. Lepola
Big Walnut High School hosted a CCSS event July 15 to show parents and community members how the school district has joined the Common Core State Standards together with Ohio’s revised state standards, while still adhering to the district’s traditional mission statement.
The new Common Core State Standards have received a lot of media attention lately, but the standards have been transitioning into place to a greater and lesser degree during the past four years in the 43 states adopting them.
There have been a host of misunderstandings about Common Core State Standards (CCSS), beginning with the word State in the title. CCSS are new Mathematics and English Language Arts standards common between the adopting states, but coming down from the federal level; while the other two Ohio standards - Science and Social Studies - are transitioning into what are called Revised Ohio Academic Content Standards.
The Ohio Department of Education adopted CCSS in 2010 for implementation during the 2014-15 school year. The Big Walnut Local School District spent four years transitioning to the new standards as part of the district’s Race to the Top initiative.
District Superintendent Steve Mazzi opened the session by acknowledging the national controversy over CCSS, assuring everyone in attendance that Big Walnut would work with the new standards to make them relevant to Big Walnut students’ individual academic needs.
“In spite of the controversy out there regarding the Common Core State Standards, our mission is to inspire and guide each student to his or her maximum potential,” Mazzi said. “That was our mission before the new standards came out, that is still our mission today, and it will be our mission in the future.”
Mazzi explained that the evening’s format, eight stations spread around the library’s media center, was designed to show participants the future of education at Big Walnut as the district launches the new standards.
“Whether it’s the idea that the Common Core State Standards were developed at the federal level, versus our goal to embrace the next generation of learning, we will show you what the new standards will look like and why we believe educating our students is still under local control,” Mazzi said. “We are not a one-size-fits-all school district, nor do we plan to be; our students and staff are not told how to think or what to think. Rather, we have always focused on what’s best for each student, and always ask ourselves when change presents itself, ‘Does it reflect our mission?’”
Mazzi said a local committee of staff reviewed the curriculum programs on a CCSS list that would be used by Big Walnut students. He said it was a curriculum review practice that was used before CCSS, and it’s a practice that would be continued.
Mazzi also said that boards of education members and public school administrators statewide are concerned about the amount of testing to which students are being subjected and that lobby efforts are underway to express those concerns to legislators at both the state and federal level.
“Our society has become more data driven than ever,” Mazzi said. “But as a local school district, we can assure you that we will continually review what’s happening at both the state and federal levels, especially as it impacts the lives of our students here in Ohio and at Big Walnut.”
Mazzi also noted CCSS critics who have spread rumors that the federal government is moving towards testing procedures that hooks students up to sensory monitors.
“These staff members are experts and were free to review any and all materials before any final selection was made,” Mazzi said. “And I must add that as a pilot school for testing, our students used our Big Walnut equipment, and there was no mention of sensors, posture seats, facial cameras, or pressure monitors. I can unequivocally tell you if items like these get introduced in the future, not only would this superintendent object, but I feel confident in speaking for our board of education that they would also reject such items.”
To learn more about the new Common Core State Standard, visit www.corestandards.org .
For additional information about Ohio’s Revised Academic Content Standards go to www.education.ohio.gov. Under Teacher Resources, click Ohio’s New Learning Standards.