Madison City Schools are an Open Book on Common Core

On May 22nd, officials and educators in the Madison City School system hosted an Educational Information Expo for anyone who had questions regarding the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards based on the Common Core State Standards. It was an all-day event open to the public where parents were invited to review the new textbooks, which are aligned with the new standards. Visitors could also peruse the online resources that students and teachers will be using, and many teachers were on-hand to answer questions.

“We serve a transient community. With thousands of military families moving in and out, these standards are very important and encouraging to these families who can be assured their children are receiving the same high-level, quality education they get in other states,” said John Peck, pubic relations director for the Madison City Board of Education. “Anyone who has moved from one state to another in the past can attest that different standards in each state lead to difficulties for their children in continuing academic progress.”

Madison City schools began implementing the new math standards this past school year, and are preparing to implement English language arts standards this fall. “It’s been really exciting to see how the students are responding to taking more time and going deeper into learning even complex mathematical concepts,” said Dr. Camille Wright, instructional director for Madison City. “I’m sure we will see the same excitement and engagement among our students as they dive into English literature in new and more meaningful ways.”

The high academic standards, which were adopted in Alabama in 2011, have made the news frequently during the recent legislative session, due primarily to confusion between standards and a curriculum, and concerns over possible federal overreach. As misinformation regarding the standards continues to circulate, Madison City education leaders decided to lay the standards out in the open to help quell any myths and concerns.

“We want to be very transparent,” said Wright, who helped organize the event. “We want our parents and anyone with questions about the standards to see the text books, read the standards and get their questions and concerns answered factually and thoroughly.”

(Click here for video explaining Common Core State Standards)

Wright explained that the majority of those who have taken advantage of the Educational Information Expo have been parents of students in the system. “They are primarily asking questions about the new textbooks and the curriculum, how it is different than before. They also want to know how the materials are selected locally.”

Peck wrote in his blog post that they had spoken with more than 100 parents during the expo. “Attendees were free to examine textbooks, view a Power Point that addresses Common Core and the textbook selection process, ask questions, and provide feedback. Even skeptics who mistakenly viewed Common Core as a federal overreach on local education left with a better understanding of it as merely standards and not an edict on content.”

Events like the Madison City Educational Information Expo give parents and citizens the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge about the new standards.

“We encourage other Alabama districts to consider similar events prior to the 2013-14 school year,” said Caroline Novak, A+ Education Partnership president. “Since each system selects their own curriculum and materials, this type of public event can help provide specific, local information to parents interested in the new standards-aligned materials and resources, as well as answer any questions the community members may have about these higher academic standards for Alabama students.”

Click here to read more about this event on the Madison City Schools’ weblog.