Germantown to forecast outcomes of Common Core

District plans to create focus groups

Oct. 15, 2013

Germantown — School District officials are hoping to dissect changes to curriculum due to the implementation of Common Core State Standards by creating focus groups comprised of parents, staff and students,after a discussion at the School Board on Monday. The Common Core standardizes curriculum and sets the bar for what students should be learning in the classroom at each grade level. Wisconsin adopted standards in mathematics and English language arts in 2010.

Over the past few years the Germantown School District has been changing the curriculum relative to the Common Core. Its direct impact on the district and students will be a focus moving forward, Superintendent Jeff Holmes said during a presentation to the board.

School Board member Sarah Larson said she would like to see a public event that gives the community an overview of what it means to Germantown and how the district is operating under the parameters set by Common Core. Holmes said he has conducted listening sessions with teachers who will help the district assess any changes.

School Board President Bob Soderberg said he is "a firm believer in standardization for performance" to measure students on an equal playing field. However, all of the impacts of Common Core are not yet known and he suggested a board learning session taking a look at its cost, the history of it in the Germantown School District and the direction it is headed.

"From a 30,000-foot level it sounds great, but from a 5,000-foot level, the red flags pop up so I welcome the opportunity for further perspective," Soderberg said.

Standards in other subjects, such as science, have yet to be adopted, though Germantown is already planning their science lessons and designing curriculum around the Common Core.

Director of Teaching and Learning Brenda O'Brien this week met with leaders in the high school science department to discuss the Common Core and its future. Currently, freshman can only take a physical sciences course. O'Brien said they are discussing the possibility of offering biology to freshmen, but without eradicating the physical sciences curriculum. She said the future could mean blending the strands of sciences into one course, subsequently creating a more rigorous curriculum.

Administration will continue to work with staff to investigate the impact and future of the Common Core before presenting the findings to the School Board and community.

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