New Curriculum Guides Making State Debut this Week at Research to Practice Forum

July 15, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC – July 15, 2009 – New curriculum guides to help in teaching South Carolina’s academic standards are making their debut this week at the state’s sixth annual  research to Practice Forum at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School. They represent progress toward fulfillment of State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex‘s vision for default curriculum materials for optional use by districts and schools.

Focused on making this statewide curriculum option a reality, Dr. Valerie Harrison, Deputy Superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education’s Division of Standards and Learning, began efforts to develop the guides over the past year as part of a Standards Support System – known as S3 – that clearly links written standards, classroom teaching and testing of students’ mastery of a subject.
“South Carolina’s standards have been praised as some of the most rigorous in the nation, but rigor alone doesn’t guarantee high student achievement,” Rex said.  “It’s important to give our teachers these extra resources like model lesson plans, suggested teaching strategies and testing tips to see if students are learning

The forum, which begins today and runs through Friday, July 17, is the “initial face-to-face” opportunity for educators to work with the newly-developed guides and give their feedback, according to Robin Rivers of the Office of Standards and Support.

Rivers said S3 curriculum materials are now ready for English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies in grades K-8 as well as high school courses including American history and the Constitution, biology, Algebra I, English I and II and Physical Science. 

Each S3 guide follows a common format and provides teachers with:

  • A prioritized scope and sequence for the order, amount of time and suggested pacing for the curriculum.
  • A planning guide that indicates the standards to be covered, instructional resources that may be used to enhance lessons, suggested strategies (such as differentiated teaching techniques) and guidelines for assessing lessons,
  • A set of model lessons aligned to state standards and that can be used by teachers as independent lessons or integrated into their district’s curriculum. Each model lesson includes targeted standards and indicators, specific teaching and learning goals, pacing, resources, strategies for when students need more assistance and testing guidelines.

Rivers said S3 curriculum materials are designed to be teacher friendly, promote in-depth knowledge, give learners a chance to show their skills and give suggested time frames for teaching and learning the grade level standards/indicators.

The SDE emphasizes that the S3 curriculum materials are meant to be “live documents” that will be revised and updated annually based on feedback from teachers and district personnel and on the most current instructional resources strategies and technology for each subject area , Rivers said.

In addition to their unveiling at this week’s forum, the new guides plus audio-visual materials will be available for districts to examine online at the SDE Web site after August 7.  “In keeping with our strategic focus on continuous improvement, we plan to add even more supporting materials online during the 2009-10 school year,” Rivers said. 

Additionally, the Office of Standards and Support will hold S3 regional meetings during the week of September 14-18 for interested teachers and school district curriculum and instruction leaders unable to attend this week’s Research to Practice Forum.  More information about the locations, dates and times for these meetings will be provided in early August.