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June 20, 2014

Schools get little prep time for curriculum changes

Earlier this year the Indiana legislature decided to scrap the Common Core education standards and replace them with a new set of standards. That change is still being worked out and the result is that schools are receiving little guidance in what their curriculum should focus on in the coming school year.

"This will be a difficult year," said Washington Assistant School Superintendent Paul White to the Washington School Board on Thursday. "We have received some electronic documents that kind of highlight some of the new emphasis, but we do not have the critical information we need to set up our curriculum."

The new standards in Indiana are a combination of of the former Indiana State Educational Standards and Common Core. Knowing what the state will expect from the schools though is still a bit of a mystery. "We think it will be about 25 percent of the old Indiana standards and 75 percent Common Core," said White. "We were supposed to receive some documents detailing what will be emphasized on July 1. We have been told those probably won't be coming on time. We've been told it could be as late as August 1."

If the information comes in August that will force teachers and school officials to change their classroom plans on the fly. "Teachers and schools normally use the time in July to evaluate what they have done in the past and then put together their plans for the classroom," said White. "With our kids coming back to school on August 4 there will be no time to make preparations. It is going to be a tight window."

Schools are calling the problem the "Implementation Gap." That gap was widened even more when the Federal Department of Education also got involved in the standards process. "It's really the unknown that becomes the concern for everyone," said Washington School Superintendent Dr. Dan Roach. "This is being led by the federal Department of Education. I think the state also shares our frustration."

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