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Common Core Standards on tap for new school year

reporters@samoanews.com

The local Department of Education has adopted for the first time the Common Core Standards for this new school year, and they are standards which forty-five states and all other Pacific territories have already adopted.

The Common Core Standards, according to Dr. Jacinta Galea’i, the DOE director designee, are a set of expectations that provide a consistent, clear pathway of what students are expected to learn so teachers know what they need to do to help them.

This was announced by Dr. Galea’i during the DOE General Assembly yesterday at the Tafuna High School gymnasium, where she welcomed the territory’s teachers, including the World Teach instructors.

She said, “we must set the same level of expectations for our students and keep working on achieving them, and we cannot make any more excuses, regardless of what our first language is.”

Explaining to the teachers why DOE is adopting the Common Core Standards, she said, “When our students graduate from high school, they compete with other students on a national level; they take the SAT, the ASVAB and they enter the workforce.”

The DOE director designee said close to 1,000 students graduate every year, 5% go to college off island, 15% attend the local college, 10% pass the ASVAB test — and what happens to the rest of the students?

She further noted that some of the students who do attend ASCC eventually end up dropping out, and the reason is because they must take remedial classes.  

The Common Core Standards was created by state governors, superintendents, teachers, parents and stake holders, she said, and they focus on English and Math.

Paulo Salave’a has been appointed as Chairman of the Common Core Committee and they are currently working on a timeline and a plan that will guide the adoption of the standards, Dr. Galea’i announced.

Dr. Galea’i also explained new initiatives that will begin this year, “all aimed at improving accountability, teacher quality and student performance.”

LDS

“Firstly, the Longitudinal Data System (LDS) is now in place and it should be in place when school starts,” she explained.

The LDS allows teachers and educators to collect better and more accurate data to improve tracking and evaluating student’s achievements, and teacher and school performance.

With this data teachers should be in a position where they can be more strategic and smarter with their planning and decision making.

Dr. Galea’i gave an example, “on Monday, high school teachers will be required to take attendance per period and we should have access to student attendance in real time, maybe then we (teachers) can send text messages to the parents when their son or daughter is not in class.

“Teachers should be able to enter grades not only for your regular classes but for programs that you implement in your classroom. There is also a parental component where parents can log in and see their son or daughter’s performance.”

ARCHIVE 3000

Dr. Galea’i said that in this new school year the DOE will be implementing Achieve 3000, which is the leader of differentiated instruction, to replace corrective reading.

“As a teacher and policy maker, that should make us all excited; teachers will be able to see the breakdown of the skills and the student’s performance.”

IFAS

The Integrated Financial Accounting System (IFAS) expansion is now in its testing phase and it should be up and running for the new fiscal year, she told the general assembly.

The IFAS will allow principals to manage their own school budgets for the first time and decide how to allocate resources to meet their school needs.

CSSIP

The Comprehensive Strategic School Improvement Plan (CSSIP) allows review of all aspects of ASDOE programs, “if we are to prepare our students to be either college or career ready,” she said.

Dr. Galea’i said the DOE is tasked with the responsibility of educating the sons and daughters of the Territory by preparing them for the future — and when the students graduate they have three options: College, Military and Workforce.

“Yet their test scores show that a majority of them are not prepared for any of those options — 90% end up in remedial classes, most don’t pass the ASVAB and many graduate with no entry-level skills for the workforce.

In response to this problem, Dr. Galea’i said the DOE has established eight committees, which are tasked with different areas to review, and parents, teachers and the public are invited to join these committees.

Fagaitua High School Principal Samasoni Asaeli is in charge of these committees and he’ll oversee the entire process to keep it on track, she said.

UH COHORT PROGRAM

In review, is the current Cohort program with the University of Hawai’i, which needs to address the need to upgrade high school teachers, she said.

Dr. Galea’i said this issue has been brought up during their meetings with the accreditation teams and there is a huge gap at the upper level, which prompted a review of the cohort program.

She explained the current purpose of the cohort program is to address the issue that not many elementary teachers had obtained Bachelors degrees and so far the cohorts have graduated over 500 with Bachelor degrees in elementary education.

“What about the high schools?” she asked. “Grade one to six is the elementary school, but grade seven to 12 is high school.”

Acting Governor, Fepulea’i Arthur Ripley gave special remarks during the meeting, where he thanked the DOE for being ready to serve our students and the government in this difficult task of educating our people, and wishing them success in this new school year.

He also acknowledged teachers with the World Teach organization,  and thanked them for their service to American Samoa.

Teacher of the Year 2012, Miss Lita Marie Timoteo addressed the general assembly and told the teachers to always remember, “We are teachers, We are important, We are unique and We are powerful — the whole world needs us.”

The theme for school year 2012- 2013 is “Reaching Beyond Educational Horizons”.

ASDOE also made a a special recognition for Manu’a Teacher Donald Mataese who won the U.S. Territories History Teacher of the Year award.

Master of Ceremonies for the event was Alailoto’o Seumalo while posting of colors was carried out by Tafuna High School JROTC



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