Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis met with teachers during a county-wide faculty meeting at Cairo High School Monday and told them they are “loved and appreciated” but reminded them there is much to be done and he encouraged them to work hard to improve the public schools in order to provide the best well-rounded education for local students possible.
“I am anticipating a very smooth school opening on Friday. Our principals, administrative team, teachers and staff members have all worked hard to prepare for the new year. No doubt it will be challenging,” Dr. Pharis said.
Schools this year are shifting to the new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in mathematics, English language arts, as well as literacy in science, social studies and technical subjects. The new state standards are part of the Common Core State Standards which were adopted by Georgia in July 2010 along with 45 other states in the United States.
“It moves us toward an expanded, critical thinking approach to learning. It will be more rigorous and I predict more difficult for some children. Our teachers will have to step it up in order for children to learn under the new curriculum,” Dr. Pharis said.
According to education officials, students will be expected to clearly communicate and discuss ideas, understand progressively more difficult reading material and be able to apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations.
For the first time, students will be learning and tested on their grasp of the same education standards as in other communities and states.
New standardized exams to measure success or failure will be produced and Dr. Pharis says that will mean the end to the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). It will be replaced with the new exam in 2014, Dr. Pharis said.
“These standards will better prepare our students for success beyond high school and allow us to see how we measure up against other states,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.
In Georgia, educators have been training on the new standards since March 2011.
Grady County employs 348 teachers and professional personnel in addition to 300 non-certified staff members.