JOHNSTOWN - Greater Johnstown School District officials said Thursday the district is keeping up with new state Common Core standards in the classroom, noting the public will get an opportunity to learn more about changes next month.
Discussion about Common Core - the state Education Department's adopted program for curriculum changes - dominated the Board of Education session this week at Warren Street Elementary School.
Superintendent Robert DeLilli and Director of Curriculum, Testing and Personnel Patricia Kilburn said the district is doing what it can to keep up with the new education standards.
"We cannot afford to fall behind," stated board President Paul VanDenburgh.
In July 2010, the state Board of Regents adopted Common Core standards for mathematics, English language arts, literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects, with the understanding additional expectations may be implemented.
DeLilli said the subject of the state-mandated Common Core is a hot topic, as more school districts and the public learn about higher-curriculum standards that must be addressed. He said the standards were introduced "harshly" into the New York education system three years ago.
"Common Core is lighting up the airwaves - good, bad, ugly and everything in between," DeLilli said.
DeLilli said a "parent night" informational session for the public interested in learning about Common Core will be conducted Nov. 4 at the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services center. He said no time has been set yet.
Kilburn said the state is offering students a Common Core Regents exam for algebra and a regular Regents exam for algebra this school year.
"I'd love for them to take both," she said.
DeLilli said the district should embrace Common Core and teach the various mandated materials through the grades.
If the district fails to do so, he said, "we're really doing a disservice to the kids."
Kilburn talked about some of the district's goals, which include supporting teachers in their ability to teach Common Core.
During the summer, she said the district had meetings with the administration and the Johnstown Teachers Association.
DeLilli said the district wants to meet literacy goals "clearly and coherently."
Kilburn said the district is studying why vocabulary is so important on the secondary level. She said 20 primary words are being established to eventually study individually by grades seven through 12.
"The children are going to use an academic vocabulary log that they helped to design," she said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.