Common Core still in, HSAP out

  • Wednesday, May 7, 2014

DD2 Superintendent Joseph Pye has some concerns about how this year’s school test scores are going to pan out, but after this year is over he feels teachers are in a better position to teach students Common Core Standards.

On May 1 the Senate approved a bill that replaces Common Core education standards with those developed in South Carolina by the 2015-16 school year, according to The State paper.

The bill passed 42-0 and is a compromise of legislation that had sought to repeal the math and reading standards that have been implemented in classrooms statewide since their adoption by two state boards in 2010.

Sen. Sean Bennett, R-Summerville, said this bill allows South Carolina to take back control of its own curriculum. Common Core English/Language Arts and Math will still be taught for one more year, but now school districts will be able to design their own tests and curriculum. Before the end of the school year there will be a study done by a committee, which will evaluate the implementation.

This has been the “bridge year” of South Carolina’s implementation of Common Core Standards, and many DD2 classrooms have already included Common Core into their classroom instruction.

Bennett feels this compromise comes as a relief for many people. “There were a lot of people in the community who were concerned with Common Core,” he said, adding he felt a lot of concerns circled around a fear of losing control. “I think this was a good compromise.”

Bennett also feels that with DD2 already implementing Common Core, educators will be able to weigh in on the benefits of the standards and capitalize on those benefits.

Pye said he feels the move to replace Common Core was a good one, and that the move says a lot about the state’s legislature and the need to have students better prepared for the workforce.

“When you’re teaching standards as tough as those are, it leaves little room for teachers to work with what they want to do,” he said, adding there is a difference between “standards” and “curriculum,” and many parents might not realize that. “This is saying that the district will have more control over the curriculum.”

Assistant Superintendent Sean Alford feels the district’s teachers will be satisfied with the change in assessment.

“Our high school teachers will not be upset at all at switching to an assessment…that is going to attribute to (students’) success when they leave us,” he said.

In addition to Common Core movement, Governor Nikki Haley recently signed a law eliminating HSAP testing, which Pye lightly touched on at DD2’s board meeting on April 28.

HSAP (High School Assessment Program) has been a requirement for students to graduate high school. Pye said high school students take the test their sophomore year and if they do not pass they take it again their junior year.

Haley’s signature means next school year HSAP will not happen.

Pye said he feels the test was eliminated because it was not needed. “It was a minimum test,” he said, saying he felt it did not particularly challenge students. “It really wasn’t helping us get our children ready for college.”

Pye also felt the test was not tied in at all to workforce development.

HSAP will be replaced with ACT’s WorkKeys or with the SAT/ACT college entrance exams. DD2 officials have explained that WorkKeys is a skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop and retain a high-performance workforce, and helps teachers get their students ready for work.

“HSAP was never going to tie into any of this,” Pye said. “I’m glad South Carolina is moving in the right direction.”

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