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Montgomery County announces change to Common Core

Montgomery County educators and students alike have largely been dissatisfied with the Common Core curriculum (commonly known as Curriculum 2.0). The initiative, which has been realized for five years in MoCo elementary schools and for three years in middle schools, may be taken off the table as local education officials plan a new curriculum proposal.

The new proposal comes at the heels of an extensive probe of the current curriculum. The Johns Hopkins Institute of Education headed the six-month-long investigation (costing the Board around $446,000). Citing classroom observations, teacher surveys, focus groups, work samples, as well as testing proficiency levels, the report concluded, “There is a strong case for beginning a transition away from Curriculum 2.0 and towards externally developed evidenced-based researched and reviewed instructional materials.”

The Johns Hopkins report noted that insufficient attention was devoted to special needs or ESOL students, and that the language arts and math curricula were not up to par. Another weakness the report brought to light was the lack of strong support system for students struggling in school.

When the Maryland General Assembly approved Common Core state standards in 2010, MCPS found limited curriculum options on the market that would comply with Common Core. As a result, Curriculum 2.0 was developed by MCPS internally, rather than by textbook or publishing companies.

Several years later, the companies on the market have largely adjusted to the Common Core standards adopted by 45 states as well as DC. A new curricula, created externally, would likely be more adaptable and relevant as well as cost efficient. Students and parents alike hope that the new curriculum will better suit the unique needs and diverse backgrounds of MCPS students.

Parents and educators have mixed reactions to the new plan. While some are glad that changes are underway, others are frustrated that students had to undergo the testing phases of Curriculum 2.0 in the first place.

In response to concerns of parents of tax money waste, Pat O’Neill, a member of the Board of Education, stated to Bethesda Magazine, “If you bought a car five years ago ... you’d be replacing it with a newer car that has many more safety features on it than it did five years ago.”

For 2019, the Board of Education has already set aside $1.5 million to prepare for the costs of responding to the Johns Hopkins report. The new curriculum will likely be implemented school-by-school rather than grade-by-grade in order to create a unifying support network between educators and students.

As the county prepares for a transition in the coming years, MCPS is seeking community input from parents and educators alike in order to draft a proposal that best suits the needs of MoCo students. Most of the work will be directed towards elementary and middle schools in the next year, but the curriculum of high schools may also face changes in the next three.

Written by Emily Tian

Photo Courtesy of MCPS

Published by PR Department

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