The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 6, 2013

SCS explores ways to enhance curriculum

By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 — The Stanly County Board of Education met recently for a work session.

Superintendent Dr. Terry Griffin provided a summary of the meeting in a later interview.

The purpose of the work session was to begin coming up with a comprehensive strategic plan that utilizes 21st century skills to aid in preparing students for the needs of a changing global society.

Everything discussed at the work session is still in the planning process, meaning nothing is set in stone yet.

The session began with Stanly County Schools (SCS) trivia, getting everyone up to date on the current facts of the county schools.

They transitioned to speaking about student success and how to ensure this: Breaking down the Common Core Standards set down by the state.

Griffin said with the implementation of the common core standards this year, the new curriculum, generally speaking, goes deeper into subjects rather than having a wide berth of material. The information is more detailed than the curriculum they were dealing with in the past.

As a means of measuring student success, SCS will implement new assessments. Some of the new assessments, as set by the state, are the ACT for 11th graders, the PLAN test for 10th graders and the EXPLORE test for eighth graders.

From there they transitioned to workbooks, going over the first six chapters.

Next, Griffin relayed that they began speaking about what they needed to accomplish with a new strategic plan for SCS.

There are a couple of questions that the school board has to address with the new strategic plan: How do they deliver instruction to students in Stanly County? How do they focus the courses they offer, align them to make them more efficient and expand courses for the students? How do they balance finances, the budget, with the opportunities they want to offer students?

To address these issues, the instructional staff came up with a couple of goals that need to be achieved.

One of the goals of the new strategic plan is to offer SCS students additional advanced courses.

SCS offers 10 different advanced placement (AP) courses and 28 honors courses.

To expand on that, SCS has partnered with the North Carolina School of Science and Math to offer additional online courses.

“That’s a done deal,” said Griffin, noting that the registration period for these classes was already open.

The other goal is to utilize learning opportunities for the staff to offer students, such as an online platform that would provide a place to post assignments, email students and post grades, in addition to other services.

Additionally, Dr. Sandra Carter and the instructional staff at the board of education have been working on a new plan that would call for the implementation of what they refer to as “work sites” and they presented this to the board members during the work session.

“How can we be more efficient? Looking at the concept of having specialized learning sites within the system, basically, we would continue to offer the basic courses at all of our high schools like we are now. We’re not taking or moving, the goal is not to take one program and put it at another,” Griffin said.

“We’re talking about leaving the basic programs in place but again becoming more efficient by proven use of technology. By being more efficient, it’ll open up class slots for teachers to teach, and we could take one site and perhaps make it like a health/medical site.

“We’re talking about adding additional courses and using technology to deliver across the county or to allow students to take classes at another high school.

“We are in the process. This is not a one-year plan, this will not happen next year.

“The goal is to have specialized learning sites so that we can go deeper and provide a stronger, more comprehensive (curriculum) rather than having a sprinkling of courses without any depth.”

Griffin spoke about four different sites.

“At the health and medical site, this would also be the site for advanced placement science courses.

“We would like to look at another site that would focus on engineering and technology.”

Advanced placement math courses would take place at this site, Griffin said.

“We’re looking at a site for public service and business entrepreneurship. This could be an area we could really expand, we have so many children interested in law enforcement and firefighting ... possibly looking at a culinary program, too.

“The last site would be a performing arts site. Again we’d be able to expand and go deeper.

“Again our goal is to offer within these four programs  a career technical education track, as well as a four-year university track.

“Our goal is to leverage the power of technology, deliver it at a central website or not offer it at two different sites in the same semester.

“We’re talking about being able to take those upper level courses and concentrate them at one site,” Griffin said.

All of this work is in preparation for a new strategic plan, which the school board will be organizing sub-committees for soon.

Parents interested in working on these sub-committees should contact Lisa Flynn at the board of education office.

There will be another work session during February.