Jill Sims, the district’s director of elementary curriculum and instruction, along with staff members Elizabeth Ogletree and John Waller, broke down the shifts in the common core curriculum, which has been adopted by Georgia and 45 other states to help ensure that all students are prepared for college or a career, regardless of what state they attended school.
Sims said the new curriculum, which is being taught to educators in professional development training, allows the teacher to not only integrate all subject areas in a lesson but also encourages more student participation.
“It should ramp up the level of thinking that our students are doing,” Ogletree said during the presentation. “This assessment is calling for a major change in teaching.”
Changes include more writing, specifically on assessments; math problems requiring a student to explain how he or she came to an answer; and an increase in nonfiction reading.
Sims said scores may drop because of the changes.
“They do expect dips in scores,” she said in her reports from the state.
For example, in a test trial of roughly 90 students on the new common core assessments, only about 6 percent of students passed in math and just under 8 percent passed in English/Language Arts.
Superintendent Emily Lembeck said she has told parents there could be a drop in scores because the curriculum will be more rigorous.
“This is going to be hard, and students are going to struggle,” she said. “We are trying to get our teachers ahead of the curve … I think we are taking the right steps to get prepared for this.”
In other news, the board approved:
* A $256,000 contract with Diversified Construction of Georgia in Decatur to renovate the choral and dance studio at Marietta High School. The project will be paid for out of the district’s building fund;
* A $91,800 contract with DELL Marketing LP to purchase 120 DELL Latitude E5430 laptops for $765 each with SPLOST funds. The computers will be used by Marietta High School for online testing and assessment applications;
* An $84,363, one-year contract with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company to provide insurance to Marietta city vehicles. This contract will be paid for out of the General Fund;
* A five-year beverage contract with Coca-Cola beginning Jan. 1, 2013. Marietta’s current contract five-year contract with Coca-Cola ends Dec. 31.
Coca-Cola will pay 20 percent of all vending sales. The vending commission of $87,550 is based on an expected 3,900 vending sales for the five-year time period. In added value, Coca-Cola will provide $2,500 for PowerAde equipment to the athletic program; $2,000 for the PowerAde Athletic Recognition Program; 12 $50 gift cards each year to Teachers of the Year totaling $3,000; plaques for Teachers of the Year valuing $5,000; 300 cases of 12-ounce drinks for free; the program “My Coke Rewards;” athletic concession merchandising; the online store “cafeteria” program; and the student volunteer tracking software program;
* The calendar options for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
The option for the 2013-14 school year, which was approved by 11 out of 11 schools, has an Aug. 8, 2013, start date; Thanksgiving break for Nov. 25-29; winter break for Dec. 23 – Jan. 5, 2014; mid-winter break, Feb. 18-21; spring break, March 31 to April 4; and the last day of school scheduled for May 23.
The option for the 2014-15 school year, which was approved by nine of 11 schools, has a start date of Aug. 6, 2014; Thanksgiving break, Nov. 24-28; winter break, Dec. 22 – Jan. 5, 2015; mid-winter break, Feb. 16-18; spring break, March 30-April 3; and the last day of school for May 22; and
* The 16-page 2013-16 Strategic Plan. The vision for the plan is “To be the school system of choice,” and the mission is “To prepare each of our students, through academic achievement, for college, career and life success.”
Under the plan, the districts aims to increase the graduation rate and the percentage of students exceeding testing standards, develop opportunities to involve students in the decision-making process, and attract and retain a staff that is “highly qualified and highly effective.”