Jefferson School District focuses on Common Core
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Common Core
Parents of students in the Jefferson School District gathered at Traina Elementary School on Thursday to learn about the Common Core State Standards. Providing the information during the third of three parent nights was Christina Orsi, Jefferson School District Coordinator of Curriculum, Categoricals and Special Projects. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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Parents of the Jefferson School District got a firsthand look at the future of education with an introduction to the Common Core State Standards during a parents night Feb. 6 at Traina Elementary School.

The goal of the meeting — the third of three parents nights in the district during the week — was to explain Common Core language arts and mathematics standards, changes in testing and the timeline for districts to adopt the changes, according to Christina Orsi, who ran the three meetings.

Orsi, Jefferson’s coordinator of curriculum, categorical and special projects, said the 2,440-student district wanted to reach out to parents and address concerns.

“We’re trying to be proactive and communicate ahead of time,” she said. “This is the first time as a district we put out the information face to face.”

Common Core focuses on a student’s critical thinking, not memorization and multiple-choice answers. Its objective is to make students ready for college or a career at the end of high school.

Common Core State Standards are being adopted by educators across the United States to achieve consistency in curriculum and testing.

The goal of the parent meetings was to connect with at least 5 percent of the families with children in the district, Orsi said. That goal was nearly met, with more than 100 parents attending events at Monticello and Jefferson schools and 50 at Traina.

During those meetings, Orsi worked hard to help the parents understand what Common Core will ask of students.

She had parents strategize ways their children could use critical thinking in everyday tasks. Among the suggestions were to help prepare recipes, to build models at home and to navigate in the car using a parent’s smartphone.

Orsi even had parents work on a math question for fifth-graders.

“It was as interactive as we wanted it to be,” she said. “We wanted to put them in the seats of the students.”

Throughout the event, parents asked about how the tests would affect their children. A number questioned what Common Core would mean for the gifted and talented education programs.

Orsi acknowledged that the district had measured G.A.T.E. students’ performance using the statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting exams, which are being replaced. She said scores won’t be counted during the first year of Common Core curriculum and tests, so students will have an opportunity to adjust.

Orsi added that the topic would be discussed in detail at a meeting of the G.A.T.E. parents advisory committee Wednesday. She said the district is also planning morning meetings later in the month for stay-at-home parents.

After the meeting, a number of parents said they enjoyed the evening.

“I thought it was great, very informative,” said Kellie Whitecotton, who has a son in first grade and a daughter in third at Traina. “I feel positive. It focuses on the core, and there’s no one falling through the cracks.”

“Based on what I learned so far, it seems pretty good,” said Manikanda Krishna, who has a daughter in fifth grade at Hawkins School. “It was pretty informative.”

Orsi was pleased by the response from parents.

“It’s really good a lot of parents want their kids prepared for college and careers,” she said. “I’m happy for the opportunity to talk to parents and address their misconceptions. It’s a good opportunity to dispel those myths and, going forward, to give them good facts.”

More information can be found on the district website at by choosing “Common Core Transition” from the “Parent Links” menu.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or

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February 14, 2014
TP removed my original comment/criticism of "Common Core." Nice.

Just google "dangers of common core" and start reading articles. This is NOT a good thing for our kids.

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