New School, New State, New Standards?

I moved to South Carolina this week.

I’ll be teaching Foundational Algebra, and only Foundational Algebra, for this first semester at a rather large public high school in the state capital, Columbia. My department head was kind enough to allow a rookie teacher one prep. (Although I have been teaching college students for three years now, this will be my first high school teaching position, so I consider myself a rookie. I am excited but nervous to begin.)

In preparation for this new job, I began researching what standards I will be using as a mathematics teacher in the state of South Carolina. I’m doing this because I found out that the standards I had been trained on in undergraduate, the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, had been rejected by the state.

Well. Sort of.

While reading through the the South Carolina standards I thought, “Gee, these sounds really familiar.” And for good reason. It turns out that the new standards that South Carolina adopted are extremely similar to Common Core. So much so that some groups were upset at how similar the standards are. The document Common Core Once More outlines their complaints. They feel that the committee that oversaw the writing of the new standards simply reviewed and remixed Common Core rather than writing completely new standards from scratch. The Fordham Institute had given the old South Carolina Math Standards a C, so I imagine that almost anything would be an improvement. But those same groups argue that the Fordham Institute is pro-Common Core and therefore biased. Whether that undermines the expertise of Fordham here, I am not convinced.

My personal feelings on the subject are very mixed. Of course in a perfect would I would prefer to have no state standards at all so that I could be free to teach what I and my students found interesting and challenging. But I also understand the interest the government has in setting learning standards for publicly funded schools and a basis for education that everyone receives. As for the South Carolina standards, I find them to be generally okay, but I didn’t have a problem with Common Core either, so undoubtedly the shadow of CCSS-M is biasing my opinion.

One advantage that the SC standards have over CCSS-M (had enough of the acronyms, yet?) is that besides a general listing, they have also been organized by courses taught in South Carolina public schools. So I know exactly which standards I need to be focusing on in my course this fall. Which will definitely lend to making my SBG system easier.

I’ve got loads to do before school starts in August, but I’m looking forward to it. I expect to do “teachbarefoot 180” short daily posts. Given my track record of regular posting I have my doubts about my commitment, but I haven’t been teaching every single day since student teaching. We’ll see!

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