Westerville News & Public Opinion

Common Core pushing tougher local curriculum

Changes to high school English, math, science and history curricula should be approved in January


The Westerville Board of Education is considering curriculum changes that would help bring the district closer to new state standards that will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year.

The district staff presented several potential changes iin ts high school curriculum to the board at its Dec. 17 meeting. The measures likely are to be voted on in January.

Under the recommendations from district staff, the board would change its ninth-grade regular and honors course from Foundations of Literature and Composition to English I.

With the name change, ninth-grade English students would see an increase in the complexity of text, more research and a greater emphasis on grammar and writing, said Curriculum and Instruction Services Director Jennifer Knapp.

The district would be able to use the same texts that currently are used but would need to purchase some supplemental materials to address the new state standards, Knapp said.

The staff also proposed a revised course of study for Algebra I, Geometry and honors Geometry.

The changes to the math curricula are meant to make the courses of study more rigorous and put Ohio students more on par with students from around the world, Knapp said.

Knapp said the changes to the math courses of study represent a "significant shift in the way in which mathematics is taught." There will be an increased focus on reasoning, she said.

The district is unsure of what texts will be used, as textbook publishers still are working out how to address the new standards and the new way of teaching math, Knapp said.

District staff also recommended revising the district's Physical Science I and Physical Science II courses to align with the new state standards.

Those courses are meant to set students up for success for future science studies, Knapp said. The state will require all high school students to have three units of science: physical science, biology and advanced sciences.

The district also is considering new history courses that would have students studying American history in ninth grade, with a shift to European history in 10th, Knapp said.

With the new standards, students will focus on the themes of historical events, their cultural contexts and how they are relevant today.

The new curricula presented to the board came out of committees of teachers and administrators who examined the new Ohio Common Core standards, which are meant to be more rigorous and better prepare students for college, Knapp said.