Catholic schools are nationally recognized for their high academic standards and rigorous curriculum. Through the years, Catholic schools in Arkansas have been cognizant of national standards in all content areas and have worked diligently to provide teachers with in-service to stay current on strategies to meet the needs of students in all content areas.
With the release of the new Common Core Standards for language arts and math, the Office of Catholic Schools is working diligently with Catholic school teachers to update the curriculum guide and provide staff development.
Until recently, each state had its own academic standard -- meaning that students across the country were learning at different levels. The Council of Chief State Offices and the National Governors Association led an initiative to create standards that are "research and evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills, and are internationally benchmarked." In March 2010, the draft for language arts and math was made public. The Office of Catholic Schools used these standards to revise the current curriculum guide for Catholic schools in Arkansas.
In August 2010, the Office of Catholic Schools appointed a language arts committee to review the curriculum. The committee was comprised of K-12 teachers and administrators from Catholic schools across the state.
Over a period of seven months, the committee reviewed and amended the Catholic school language arts curriculum guide for grades K-8. This curriculum guide developed in 1997 was based on national standards. The committee found that many of these standards were aligned with the newly published Common Core Standards. The area needing most revision was in the area of writing skills.
After the committee revised the language arts curriculum, a checklist was developed for assessing textbooks to assist in the selection and adoption of a series that would most effectively meet the Common Core Standards.
In March 2011, a "book caravan" was held for the Catholic schools to preview all available materials. Following review of the available materials, the committee selected the textbooks and materials to be used for the next six years in grades K-8 in Arkansas Catholic schools.
During staff development in August, all K-8 teachers will attend a workshop on the implementation of the new language arts program.
The principals of each school are responsible for the implementation of the new language arts curriculum. The Catholic Schools superintendent and associate superintendent will monitor the progress of implementation through visits to classrooms, conversation with faculty and evaluation of standardized test scores.
The newly revised language arts curriculum guide has been completed and is available on the Diocese of Little Rock website, http://www.dolr.org/schools.
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