Common Core State [sic] Standards
477 in the collection
Allentown School District moving ahead with plan to eliminate sixth-grade social studies
Ohanian Comment:The Allentown school district is on the verge of dropping 6th grade social studies so it will have more time to prepare kids for math tests.
Who would guess that Allentown would be so forward thinking, so ahead of the Common Core curve? But eliminate social studies so you can teach more math in hopes of raising math scores on standardized tests? And note: The board is explicit in their reason for making this change: The proposal was brought forward in response to changing federal standards with regard to math, and the fact that math scores plummet on state exams in the district after the fifth-grade level.
changing federal standards.
The Allentown board seems to realize these aren't state standards but an imperative of The Feds.
First they eliminate social studies in sixth grade. What will go next in the name of higher test scores?
In truth, the integration of language arts and social studies could be a great idea--to help students see relationships. I'd like to see fewer separate subjects and more thematic instruction. . . but not to save time for more test prep.
Fact: The Allentown school district has the lowest per pupil expenditure -- $5,881 per student -- out of 495 schools districts in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its schools range from a Great Schools rating of 1 (out of 10) (93% poverty) to 10 (12% poverty).
This short item appeared in the Allentown Morning Call, Dec. 2, 20011
Allentown School District library system in 'state of crisis'
Staff shortage from layoffs causing havoc. Acting Superintendent Russ Mayo plans to address the problem but warns 'resources are limited.'
Allentown School District's head librarian says curriculum changes and layoffs have depleted staff and left the district's library system in a "state of crisis."
Donna Forsythe, a librarian at Trexler Middle School, told the school board Thursday that elementary schools are without a librarian for the majority of the school year and middle school students have limited time frames to check out book
Does anyone in Allentown think that maybe something should be addressed other than how much time students spend in math class?
When the new tests that travel with the Common Core appear, will Allentown restructure its curriculum again?
Warning, Hazel, these changing federal standards are coming to your town soon.
Reader Comment: In these days of turmoil in our society, our students need social studies more than ever. Our children will be voters when we, as we become senior citizens, are growing ever more dependent on their decisions. Should we send them to the polls with no concept of history, democracy, culture, or the human condition outside their own experience? Attempting to absorb this area of study into the Language Arts curriculum is, in effect, cutting both in half. If math scores have gone down suddenly in the sixth grade, perhaps it is time to look at the curriculum, teaching methodology, environmental forces, and even the tests themselves. Sacrificing on subject area for another is "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and is no long-term fix.
by Colin McEvoy
At least for now, the Allentown School District is moving forward with a controversial plan to eliminate sixth-grade social studies as a stand-alone course.
Superintendent Russell Mayo recommended last month integrating social studies with language arts classes, mixing the two 45-minute classes into a single 45-minute course.
Officials say that change will allow math courses to be increased from 45 to 90 minutes and will add another 15 minutes a day to reading. Both subjects are tested by state standardized exams.
Several teachers and students voiced opposition to the plan, which prompted the school board to ask for more information before implementing the suggested changes.
But while some board members continued to voice concerns about the proposal, the board's education committee on Thursday did not make a motion to propose stopping the plan.
Absent such a motion, Mayo said the administration plans to move forward.
"You're the board; if you say we're not doing it, we're not doing it," Mayo said. "But it will tie our hands as to how do we address the severe data we're looking at with regard to math scores."
The proposal was brought forward in response to changing federal standards with regard to math, and the fact that math scores plummet on state exams in the district after the fifth-grade level. [emphasis added]
Elementary math scores on 2011 state-standardized exams dropped from 70 percent proficient or higher among elementary students to 57 percent among sixth-graders, according to data presented Thursday.
Board Vice President Julie Ambrose expressed concerns about whether students already advanced in math would suffer in other areas under these changes.
Ambrose asked Mayo to look into an alternative plan for those students, something the superintendent said he would research and report back to the board.
The proposed change would create no alterations among the teacher population, as sixth-grade teachers are qualified to teach all subjects, director of literacy Carol Hagenbuch said.
Board member Joanne Jackson said if the matter went to a vote, she would not support the plan because she feels the subjects should not be integrated.
But board member Scott Armstrong said he believed the plan would work, and that the board should not reject it without presenting an alternative.
"We can nitpick this proposal, but where else do we go?" Armstrong asked. "I believe (the district) has come up with an excellent creative solution."
The board committee also considered a proposal to add 10 minutes to each middle school day, resulting in about 30 additional hours of total instruction time.
If eventually approved by the full board, the middle school day next year would likely run from 7:50 a.m. to 2:35 p.m., rather than ending at 2:25 p.m. as it currently does.
But Mayo said the specific times may change by next year because the Allentown Education Association teachers union expressed concern about the workday.
The committee also heard a plan to restructure the district's alternative education programs that officials say will save $278,943.
Currently, the district offers those programs at three separate locations, which creates problems with overhead, staff needs and site supervision, said Susan Lozada, executive director of community and student services.
Under the new plan, the programs would be relocated so that they would all be offered in two of the locations: the Jackson School and the Lehigh Street campus.
Doing so would eliminate the need for one subcontractor altogether. Lozada said programs would no longer be offered at the Boys & Girls Club at Sixth and Green streets, which would save on lease and transportation costs.
Contact Allentown reporter Colin McEvoy at 484-894-2549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 11, 2012
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