Beginning this fall, Octorara Area School District will raise the bar on student achievement and increase academic competitiveness, according to Elena Wilson, director of curriculum and instruction.
Speaking to the school board and a sparse crowd on Monday, Wilson said teachers also will move toward preparing students to handle jobs that don’t yet exist and to solve problems society does not yet have.
This instructional shift toward college and career readiness, along with increased rigor in math and reading, are mandated under Pennsylvania Common Core Standards.
Wilson said while no state is required by federal law to adopt a set of common standards, most states — including Pennsylvania — are moving in this direction. Pennsylvania, in fact, is adopting standards which will increase academic rigor by two to three grade levels. She said these may be higher than the standards adopted by other states.
“We can no longer afford to just tell students what they need to know,” Wilson said of past teaching practices such as tricks of memory to help with test taking.
“The bar has been raised significantly,” she said.
Wilson stressed standards are not curriculum, and she said Octorara is revising its curriculum to make sure its students will meet the standards.
She said the district will encourage teachers to move away from teacher-centered classrooms “where the relatively young go to watch the relatively old work,” and change the way students are taught.
“Our sub groups have been struggling; our kids deserve better,” Wilson said.
“This isn’t small change,” Wilson said. “It’s big change. It’s a really exciting time to be part of the Octorara community.”
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