The Westerville Board of Education adopted new high school courses of study Monday, Jan. 27 to realign its high school curriculum with new state standards that were adopted in 2010.
The district has been at work since 2011 realigning its coursework, beginning at the elementary level and working its way up, to match the new state standards, which students are scheduled to be tested in at the end of the next school year.
"It assures our students will be presented the appropriate curriculum to encounter the new state assessments," said Superintendent John Kellogg.
Throughout all of the changes at all grade levels, the emphasis has been on increasing rigor and deepening students' understanding of subject matter, Kellogg said.
Students will be better able to understand and apply processes, and will encounter more informational texts.
"We want students to have the ability to read text, analyze that text ... and present the information in a consolidated fashion," Kellogg said. "It goes beyond the content and gets those skills students need to have."
The board unanimously approved the social studies and science courses of study with a 4-0 vote, with board member Cindy Crowe absent, but board member Carol French opposed the language arts and math courses of study because they follow the Common Core curriculum.
French said she believes Common Core is not a proven strategy for increasing student achievement, and she said she fears it takes away local control of material taught to students.
"I'm concerned that we are being influenced by the state and national organization for curriculum, and as a result we do not have an input for the local teachers to be able to do their own things. They have to teach to the books they have, to the tests that are going to be given," French said. "I feel that there is not a proven test on the Common Core. There has not been any proof that this will make our students better by the time they graduate, by the time they go off to college."
Kellogg, however, said while the curriculum may align to state standards and state tests, Westerville teachers and administrators worked together to develop the curriculum to meet those standards, so the new curriculum still reflects what's important to the Westerville district.
"The curriculum is ours. It just needs to be aligned to the standards for the outcome we want for kids," Kellogg said. "We sometimes get confused by the curriculum and the standards, and they're two different beasts.
"If you start to compare courses of study with other districts, you'll start to see differences."
Board President Nancy Nestor-Baker said it was clear that the district needed to change the courses of study to both align with standards and increase rigor for students, though she acknowledged that more changes may come as the district implements the new courses and sees their strengths and weaknesses.
"I firmly believe there is tweaking that needs to be done, and I think we need to be firmly aware of where we are going," Nestor-Baker said.