Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Common Core: Thoughts from BVP High School Designer Jonathan Santos Silva

Before joining the team at Blackstone Valley Prep, I taught high school math in a small rural community in South Dakota. I enjoyed my time there for many reasons, but one thing that troubled me about my experience was the chronically low expectations set for the scholars we served. Whereas scholars in many communities take Algebra 1 for the first time in 8th or 9th grade, my scholars in small town South Dakota were rarely offered Algebra 1 until 10th, 11th, and even 12th grade. Knowing that most colleges expect to see Algebra 2 or higher levels of math on transcripts, I realized early on that my scholars were being knocked off the path to college and successful careers, impacted by low expectations.

I welcome the Common Core State Standards in our high school design because they provide consistent and clear guidance for teachers and administrators. They aren't perfect, and neither were the standards that they have replaced in 45 states across the country. What they do represent, however, is a strong statement that we as a nation are raising expectations for all children, from the Blackstone Valley in Rhode Island to the Badlands of South Dakota.

A concern was raised last Tuesday night at the Common Core Information Session that our scholars would graduate 1.5 years behind because of the Common Core. That couldn't be further from the truth! The Common Core Standards represent the floor, not the ceiling, for a school's academic plan. Over the last few months I have spent countless hours with BVP's academic team and experts across the country building our program of studies. BVP will continue in our unwavering commitment to using standards as a launchpad for continually pushing the bar of rigor higher for our scholars.

At BVP High School, this means preparing every scholar to take Advanced Placement level Mathematics by the 11th or 12th grade (among other AP offerings). By completing these courses, our scholars will be ready for the rigors of college academics and on a pathway to great careers, including those in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.

All in for Day 1!

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