The Norman Transcript

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August 3, 2013

School officials look ahead to upcoming year

NORMAN — Norman Superintendent Joe Siano is calling 2013/2014 an “application year,” as the district will capitalize on staying ahead of the curve in upcoming state reforms.

“This year the focus is on understanding the standards and what changes in instruction need to happen — next year we’ll see it in the classroom and you see us moving toward it now increasing strategies with reading,” Siano said.

The State Department of Education has set the Common Core standards’ implementation deadline for the 2014/2015 school year, meaning districts have until then to make adjustments to respective curriculum and instruction methods.

In anticipation of this deadline, NPS has already been making changes such as raising literacy benchmarks for K-12 students during the 2012/2013 year. Since 2014/2015 will be the school year that students are taught with the new curriculum, this year will be about reinforcing the district teachers in their understanding of the reforms.

“I think one of the great things about this year is that we started Common Core standards last year, and this year we’re able to deepen our understanding of it,” said Assistant Superintendent Shirley Simmons. “This is not a year of new things so much as taking initiatives we’ve already started and really diving into the implementation of them. Raising the standards before we have to is an effective way we’re easing in.”

New standards and rigor in instruction have informed the district’s adoption of supplemental tools like Achieve3000, a literacy-boosting online platform or AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a college-readiness system for K-12 students accelerating learning.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to introduce AVID at the high school level. It was a long-term goal of the schools to get a bigger variety of kids into AP courses. AVID is the piece that was missing for us in creating the safety net and preparatory work for students to be able to take those courses,” Siano said.

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