This spring, we promised to talk to some educators about the implementation for the Common Core Curriculum and PARCC assessments. What we asked was how they and their schools have prepared and what could potentially hinder a smooth transition.
The first school leader we spoke with was Chad Webb, the head of school for Village Preparatory Academy:Woodland Hills Campus (Village Prep) in Cleveland. Chad is an Ohio native and was a principal in the city of New Orleans Louisiana Recovery School District after Hurricane Katrina. Village Prep is one of the Breakthrough Schools with a structured school culture focusing on reading and math instruction, integrating technology and a unique entrepreneurship curriculum. Beginning in kindergarten, all students (who are referred to as scholars) have a goal of doing their best and attending college.
Below are the questions and excerpts from our conversation.
Q: What's your biggest worry?
A: Increased rigor of course, but making sure we are preparing our scholars when the new assessment piece takes place.
Q: What do you need to put in place before this all starts?
A: Making sure we are meeting all the teaching points and staff preparation. Our director of curriculum and instruction has worked with the staff and we have had support from regional partners, including the Educational Service Center.
Q: Do you have all the technology needed for testing?
A: We have been working on it and collaborating with all Breakthrough Schools vetting all our options. Our goal of is 35 minutes of technology time up to grade three, then we move to each child having at minimum an hour.
Q: What skills do your teachers have that will make this easier?
A: I think the way we do planning on a daily basis. We use our backwards design unit plans and this funnels down to lesson planning.
Q: What could ODE do to make sure things go as smoothly as possible?
A: I think the continued line of communication it is a challenge because it seems we are still flying by the seat of our pants. We put something into place and then have to change.
Q: What do you want your parents to know about CC?
A: I think I’m better off because we are brand new, so it won’t be a drastic change. We have been communicating with parents from the beginning. We want them to realize the rigor has increased and we are working on being better because the bar is being raised.