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February 27, 2014     The Sundance Times
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February 27, 2014
 

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Local News The Sundance Times Page 14 Thursday, February 27, 2014 District" continued from page 1 Standards stems from misconceptions. The standards are worth the effort of implementation, they say. "This has been a two-year implementation and will continue to be implemented. My hope is that', if [the Legislature] do go down that pathway of changing the standards, they will allow the school boards to adopt their ownt" says Stutzman. "We've put so much time and effort into this district, getting the rigor put in place, that I would strongly suggest we con- tinue with that same set of standards." One of the most common misconceptions, says Stutzman, is that the Wyoming Common Core Standards are federally man- dated. They were in fact created by a group of 42 state superin- tendents of education with the help of educational profession- als all the way up from the classroom. "It was a coalition of superintendents taking direction from principals and teachers," he explains. "How we teach it doesn't have to be the same, the standards are a level of ability, knowl- edge or competency." Idaho immediately changed the name, he adds, and is now calling them the Idaho State Standards. This helped to negate the impression of federal oversight. Nor do the Common Core Standards remove local control over what is taught to our kids and how Stutzman says. To illus- trate, he explains that the Common  Core Standards are a lot like the high jump. "[It's like saying that] at third grade everybody must jump six feet - well, I can guarantee you that most third graders aren't going to make that bar and it's maybe one in a million who can. That's an unrealistic standard for that grade level," he says. "They have taken the time to set those standards at the level that they should be. Your average student should be able to do this coursework." With the standards in place, it is the responsibility of the county to decide how to implement them. "How we teach it in Crook County is up to us - the curriculum we use, the techniques we use and the instruction is up to us how we teach." Brown is also adamant that educators and school districts have not experienced any loss of local control in selecting the materials and strategies to implement the standards. "Although we have consistent targets, we have the autonomy to make decisions at a local level regarding the materials and strategies that best meet the needs of our students and are consistent with Wyoming's values and traditions," she says. "We are able to choose from the many available resources while remaining true to our Wyoming roots." Some opponents of the Common Core Standards have claimed that they dictate too strongly what must be taught and are not necessarily appropriate for children of different backgrounds. A child in Wyoming, for example, will not have the same back- ground and experience as a child in New York City. "The great thing is that the kids in New York City will be able to read exactly as well as our kids. We would just teach ours differently, using the foundation of where our kids 'come from," says Stutzman. "Our students come to us with a certkin foundation. If they come to us from an agricultural or mining family, they know certain things and a great teacher will utilize that to build on." The standards are bringing more relevance to the students, says Brown, rather than detracting from it. "I had a question from one of our legislators on whether this is going to impede our elective classes- ag, business and so onf she says. "Absolutely not, because it's where the relevance comes to the learning." These elective classes are all now tied in to science, math, lan- guage arts and reading to create this connection, says Stutz- man. "It's what we should have been doing with education all along - it's what great teachers do," he nods. According to Brown, the Wyoming Common Core Standards overall are well-articulated and rigorous. "As educators, we appreciate a challenging set of standards, which clearly set the targets for our students and teachers," she says. "In addition, we appreciate that they are grade specific, which at the local level," Stutzrnan says. "We're not going to change  helps our teachers to identify their specific responsibilities to the way we teach. What we will change is the level of rigor in their studentsf Another positive aspect is the consistency they bring through- out the nation, she says, which has seen Crook County's stu- dents already connect with others across the country. At pres- ent, for example, one class is communicating via Skype with another class in Kansas that is studying the same material. "This enables educators to communicate with common lan- guage and terminology as we network with other educators," Brown says. "It's refreshing to be able to collaborate with teachers from around the nation as we adjust our instruction, materials and assessments to align with our new standards. We appreciate the opportunity to share with and borrow from other educators - it's powerful to collaborate on such a large scale." Brown calls for the community to support the standards, par- ticularly bearing in mind the considerable work that has al- ready been done to align the district's instruction, curricular materials and assessments to the new Wyoming Content and Performance Standards. "We all share the goal of having Wyoming's students be amongst the top in the nation and we believe that these stan- dards will help us achieve that goal," she says. Stutzman, too, suggests that the Wyoming Common Core Standards deserve to be pursued. '" "Teachers need to educate themselves on what this does for them. We all need to - I need to educate myself better on what the standards are, I don't know them fully yet," he says. "We need to utilize our staff and help them implement the rigor that is there in the Common Core Standards. Just like the snowflakes falling out there, every kid is different - we need to be able to change education to fit the child, not change the child to fit education." If you are interested in reading more about the Wyoming Common Core Standards, brief guides to each grade level are available on the district website at crookl .com in the Curricu- lum section. Click the link underneath the heading "Four Page Parent's Guide to Student Success" to view the documents. "It talks about every grade level and what a kid will need by the end of it," says Brown. The guides also include advice for parents on communicating with teachers and ideas for home activities to help your child. Sudoku 6 5 Solution 8 2 Puzzle on 7 9 previous page 3 7 Sponsored by: 2 1 4 6   9 8 THIS SPACE AVAILABLE. CALL 1 3 283-3411 FOR 5 4 DETAILS o,o, 4 3 1 5 9 8 5 6 2 2 7 7 3 192873 457619 863542 928164 674385 31927 45731 89456 1 6 219 8 B Concerns: continued from page I same way, at the same rate or with the same focus. These standards, he says, will system- atically force all learning down the same future and, for example, discard an un- derstanding of literature for the sake of being able to read software instruction manuals. Davis also explained that organizations such as Wyoming Liberty are opposed to the standards because they remove free- dom of thought from both parents and route through the same standardized students, reducing the influence of par- tests, dictating up to 85 percent of the ents and limiting the material covered, in curriculum and reducing the freedom of order to standardize it across the nation. teachers on what and how they teach The Common Core Standards have been Another strong concern is that the stan- accepted in 45 states, which at first glance dards are aimed at "college and career seems to imply they must be of value, readiness," rather than at life skills in said Davis. On deeper inspection, how- generk rThe pul. ofedtie  d_'. v eeta_ mayhave been forced Davis, is not tb now dop t:C etdaIs to kisreeiv: matron h ki  e .W t at "ds choose to ihi%il't.h t " ing federal funding from such programs as Race to the Top and the description of Common Core as "state standards" is an illusion that masks the reality of "federal standards," which many citizens would have been less willing to accept. Finally, Davis pointed to the results of PAWS testing in Natrona County last year, where the Common Core curriculum had already begun to be implemented. These results showed a significant drop; if the new standards really are better, he asked, should the results not have blown those from previous years out of the water? "These standards are constantly de scribed as 'rigorous and releyant'.," he sai "Biat what is it that's rigorou abbht them www.nhcinema.com 1830 N. 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