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Business leaders get ‘Common Core’ education

Clayton County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson explains changes in education standards to county business leaders Thursday.

Clayton County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson explains changes in education standards to county business leaders Thursday.

— Clayton County Public Schools is adjusting to new academic and financial challenges from outside the district, the school system’s interim leader told business leaders Thursday.

Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson told Clayton County Chamber of Commerce members the district is in the midst of a transition from No Child Left Behind standards to federal Race to the Top and Common Core curriculum standards.

Jackson also said the county’s schools are preparing for the federal government’s likely sequestration on Friday. She explained while it will force budget cuts, the expectations for a quality education will not change.

“It is coming, yet the requirements are going to be the same,” Jackson said.

Much of Jackson’s presentation was to inform chamber members about recent changes in education curriculum and standards.

The education lexicon that the public has come to know for more than a decade is turning on its head. Phrases such as “Adequate Yearly Progress” that have become commonplace under the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act are being replaced with new Common Core curriculum phrases such as “College and Career Ready Performance Index.”

“AYP” is out and “CCRPI” is in.

Clayton County Chamber of commerce President Yulonda Beauford said the change in lingo alone will be jarring for the community.

“I gotta learn that one — we’ve got AYP down,” Beauford said.

Some of the new mandates the district must address include:

• Increasing the number of high school students completing vocational or “advanced academic” pathways;

• Raising the percentage of third-, fifth- and eighth-graders who are capable of reading and understanding technical manuals and scientific texts;

• Putting eighth graders on state-defined graduation plans;

• Ensuring elementary and middle school students can pass the social studies and science portions of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, also known as the CRCTs, in addition to the English/language arts and math sections;

• Increasing the access students with disabilities have to the general curriculum in elementary and middle schools;

• Boost the English comprehension levels of “English Language Learner” students, who are otherwise known as ELL students.

All in all, several attendees said they found Jackson’s presentation on the changes going on in education to be enlightening because they were able to gain a deeper understanding of the new Common Core standards.

Shalonda Taylor, the community manager at Bridgewater At Mt. Zion apartments, said the information will help her staff attract new families to their complex.

“I didn’t know all of those changes were going to be happening so I would definitely like to research it and understand it a little more,” Taylor said.