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Common Core: New education standards already have impact, district says

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Even if South Carolina heeds calls from some opponents to halt the full implementation of national education standards, the changes already in place will continue to benefit Georgetown County students, according to one district official.

Patti Hammel, the district’s director of student performance, responded this week to claims by opponents of the Common Core standards in English and math that they are “dumbing down” the curriculum. Sheri Few, a leading opponent of Common Core and a candidate for state superintendent of education, spoke at two gatherings of local Republicans at Pawleys Island this month. She called on audiences to press state lawmakers to back legislation to halt Common Core.

The district began implementing curriculum based on the Common Core standards three years ago. It has already led to improvements in writing skills, Hammel told the school board this week.

“In South Carolina, we’ve always had rigorous standards,” she said. “Common Core will let us know where we stand because they are more specific. Teachers at each grade level are being given a better roadmap.”

The curriculum won’t change if Common Core standard’s aren’t fully implemented, she said.

School board members said they like the idea of having a common assessment that lets them know how students in the county compare with those in neighboring states.

“There seems to be a tremendous groundswell from somewhere” against Common Core, Board Member Richard Kerr said. “I frankly don’t understand it.”

Hammel said she hasn’t heard any concerns from parents.

School board chairman Jim Dumm urged his colleagues to contact the county’s legislative delegation to support Common Core. He is scheduled to speak to Waccamaw Neck Democrats about the standards on Feb. 25.

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