Common Ground: Judy Hennessey

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.

Dr. Judy Hennessey is the superintendent of Deca Prep, a K-6 elementary school in its second year. Judy is also the superintendent of Dayton Early College Academy (DECA), Ohio’s first early college high school, serving grades 7-12. Judy is a Dayton native and alum of Dayton Public Schools.

Through her work at DECA, she saw the need to have better preparation for her students and the mission of Deca Prep is to ready first generation college students in a rigorous curriculum including academics and character education. The focus of Deca Prep and DECA is sending students to college.

Below are the questions and excerpts from our conversation.

Q: What's your biggest worry? 

A: Will the assessments be aligned in time. We’ve been working on preparing the instructional side for a few years.

Q: What do you need to put in place before this all starts?

A: Making sure new staff coming in are ready and on the same page. They need to understand and practice techniques that are needed to teach close reading.  In practice this means they (teachers) will be going deeper into a content-rich curriculum.

Q: Do you have all the technology needed for testing?

A: We are close. We will have it.

Q: What skills do your teachers have that will make this easier?  

A:  How to use formative assessments and adjust instruction. They are better able to gauge what the kids know in shorter periods. They also understand much of the content needs to be pared down.

Q: What could ODE do to make sure things go as smoothly as possible?

A: We have got to get a realistic timeline. People are uneasy about the assessments – we may or may not go with PARCC assessments and this can’t be last minute. There may be a disconnect between how fast the legislation moves and the time needed to get a vendor and prepare for taking the assessments.

Q: What do you want your parents to know about CC?

A: Standards are higher. Parents are surprised they would have to read in kindergarten and in addition their children will be using decoding skills and learning comprehension strategies. This is laying a new foundation and expectation we will be bringing home to parents. 

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