West Side News

District to adopt new language arts curriculum

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The new K-12 English Language Arts Course of Study the South-Western City School District is expected to adopt for the fall includes revisions to bring the district's program in alignment with the state's new learning standards.

The state adopted the Common Core Standard for English Language Arts in 2010 and required districts to adopt a revised curriculum by the start of the 2014-15 school year.

South-Western regularly reviews the course of studies in various subjects on a rotating basis and the ELA course of study was up for review, curriculum coordinator Margaret Towery said.

"It's generally done on a seven-year cycle," she said. "It usually takes two years to complete the process, but we completed our review of the English Language Arts curriculum in one year to have it ready for the implementation of the new standards in the fall."

The South-Western Board of Education is expected to approve the course of study later this summer.

The new course of study aligns with the state's "next generation" of assessments, developed through Ohio's participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), Towery said.

PARCC is a 19-state consortium working to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math.

The overall goal of the new learning standards and PARCC is to better prepare students for college and career, Towery said.

The state standards for English Language Arts "are the same K through 12 and so they are the best and most coherent set of state standards we have ever had," Towery said.

Shifts for English Language Arts in the new standards include:

* Regular practice with complex texts and academic language.

* Literacy grounded in evidence from literary and informational texts.

* Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction.

"Our staff has been working for the last few years to prepare for the shifts," Towery said. "We just had a program last week attended by more than 200 of our teachers and one of the big subjects was the new learning standards."

Once the board approves the new course of study, district teachers will begin working to incorporate the shifts into their classroom, she said.

"We want to take our time and not just jump into it," Towery said. "We want to make sure we understand the resources we will need," determining, for example, which publishers have the products to best fit the new curriculum.

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