It was just eight short weeks ago that students were tossing their book bags aside and looking forward to a summer of relaxation.
That time has come to an end, and students are starting back to class on Thursday, Aug. 9.
A change in curriculum, technology and parent communication are all on the agenda for the 2012-2013 school year.
One of the first major changes that parents will notice will be the student/parent handbook that are sent home with every student on their first day. The handbook includes all school policies and rules, the student code of conduct, any form that a student might need throughout the year and answers to most questions parents might have.
“We are just trying to be more consistent county-wide,” said Superintendent Dr. Stewart Hobbs. “We’re also trying to make it easier for parents to find information that they need or answer questions that they might have. We hope we will be able to communicate better with parents with this new handbook.”
The handbooks will also feature the standardized discipline system that the school system will be implementing this year. All schools will have the same discipline for misconduct.
Students participating in athletics during the school year will be given another handbook that contains all the necessary forms and conduct guidelines. There are separate handbooks for middle and high schools.
One of the biggest changes this year will be the switch from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study curriculum to the National Common Core and Essential Standards curriculum.
“This is something a majority of states are moving to,” Dr. Hobbs said. “It’s totally revamping our curriculum so that no matter what state you’re in, students are still being taught the common core that they need to be successful in the 21st century.”
This new curriculum will require students to be more active in their learning experience. There will be a decrease in multiple choice test questions and an increase in short answer and essays. Dr. Hobbs says that the new curriculum focuses on rigor, relevance and relationship.
“What parents and students will see is a lot more rigor,” Dr. Hobbs said. “We’re going to hold students very accountable. Some of the assessments will be logic based, and it might be a year-long assessment and not just where they go in and take a test at the end of the year.”
Teachers and principals will also be experiencing changes with the addition of Measures of Student Learning to their annual evaluations. These tests will either be end-of-grade testing or end-of-course testing that are already standard for some classes. For classes without standardized testing the teachers will be required to create an assessment that shows the progress of their students.
“Every teacher will not only be evaluated on their performance in the classroom by an administrator but also by how much students grow in their class,” Hobbs said.
Technology will also be more prominent in the classroom this year. The school system has purchased laptops for every teacher so that they can incorporate technology into their classrooms and create lesson plans from home.
Every school will have access to mobile labs that consist of carts equipped with 25 laptops. Teachers can check out the lab and lead a lesson plan via the Internet or computer program. Every school is scheduled to have a wireless Internet connection by the first day of classes so that every classroom will have access to the Internet.
“You will see more technology in our classrooms,” Hobbs said. “That’s been a big push for us and will continue to be a big push. Students learn differently, and we’ve got to keep up with them.”
Hobbs said that several teachers applied to have their classroom become a 21st Century classroom, and those teachers will have a mobile lab in their classroom at all times. They’ll also have digital cameras and anything else they need to put technology in the students’ hands.
Hobbs says that the school system’s ultimate goal is to be able to provide a laptop or tablet device for every student. That dream is a distant one due to the cost, but the school system and the Yadkin County Board of Education will be considering the option of allowing students to bring their own devices from home.
“A lot of school systems are looking at this because most school systems aren’t able to afford a laptop or tablet for every student,” Hobbs said.
Finally, students will see an increase in their class sizes this year. The school system had to cut a total of 51 teaching position to offset discretionary cuts and budget cuts. The cuts were made through attrition and no one was laid off due to job cuts.
“We are thankful that we did get some relief in the discretionary cuts, but sending back $1.3 million to Raleigh is still significant. So our goal is to get to the point where we don’t have to send back any money,” Dr. Hobbs said. “We’re in good shape personnel wise. We made our cuts without sending anybody home and we have all of our positions filled. It’s a good school system and we’ll continue to work hard.”
Also, parents and students can expect to see are a 10 cent increase in school lunches, the addition of security cameras at all school, new tennis courts at Starmount High School and a new track at Forbush High School.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.