It's hard to believe as I sit here writing this, Thanksgiving has just gone by and December is already upon us! As usual, things are hopping at the Center/Hub. Construction of our new addition is well on the way. The first floor is already walled in and the masonry work on the second and third floors should be started soon. Although the completion date is not scheduled until mid-July of 1999, before we know it we will be moving into the new addition! The staff is already making plans for our move into the new addition. Not only will we have a new facility, we are in the process of upgrading our programs.
First, in preparation of our move, we will cut back on the number of programs that we will be offering in the fall of 1999. This will allow us time to make our move into the new addition. It will also allow us time to restructure the types of programs we will offer. We are thinking about expanding our programs to 90 minute sessions to ensure that we provide the best possible experiences for the students. We will be pulling together a group of teachers to help us with the restructuring/development of these programs. In addition, we are also revisiting how we use our undergraduate students in our programs. The purpose of using the undergraduates is to provide them with experience in teaching. However, with the increased demands on our staff to work with teachers and schools, it has become difficult for our staff to be present and act as true mentors to the undergraduates. This has put our undergraduates in uncomfortable situations. We hope to rectify this situation soon. We plan on having a member of the professional staff be present at all programs. This will help the undergraduates grow as professionals as well as ensure the best possible experiences for classes visiting the Center.
Finally, we know that the new Education Accountability Act (EAA) and new assessment systems Palmetto Academic Challenge Test (PACT), have kept teachers busy this year. Our staff, as well as the staffs of all the Hubs and the South Carolina Department of Education, have been kept busy trying to help teachers, schools and school districts meet the demands of the EAA. The SC SSI is in the process of developing tools that hopefully will be of help to teachers and schools. The first tool is the Content Analysis Toolkit (a misnomer because it really will be an on-line test item bank). With this toolkit a teacher will be able to go to a Web Site and click on a standard to reveal a number of assessment items that will be in a format similar to PACT. Although not scheduled to be completed for another year, we hope to have a partial Web Site available to teachers by February.
The second tool the SC SSI is developing is a Data Analysis Toolkit. This Toolkit will provide schools with methods of using various sources of data available to them (test scores, enrolment data, course taking trends, ect.) to help them adjust their curriculum and plan for staff development opportunities. We hope this will be available to schools by the end of the academic school year in time for when the PACT results are reported back to schools.
The third tool in process of being developed is the Curriculum Materials Selection Guide. This guide will provide schools with a process to determine which materials best meet their needs based on their current curriculum and state standards. We hope this will be completed by the end of the academic school year, also.
You can see, as we work with teachers and schools, we are learning what types of materials and professional development opportunities schools are requesting. Please let us know what we can do to help you meet the challenging requirements of the EAA.
Finally, keeping with tradition, as we approach another Holiday Season and New Year, let me leave you with a wish list for the schools of South Carolina for the New Year (not prioritised):
-Every school does well on the new PACT assessment system
-Governor-elect Hodges keeps his promise of providing more funds for education
-That Governor-elect Hodges defines education as K-16 (any reform in the K-12 school system will not be lasting unless changes are made in higher education)
-Superintendent-elect Tennenbaum provides the leadership necessary to complete the reform efforts already underway
-Legislators include educators on committees that develop rules and guidelines that impact school classrooms
-Teachers are provided the necessary materials to teach in the manner expected of them as outlined in the state frameworks and standards
-Teachers are treated as professionals
-Teachers are provided meaningful professional development opportunities
-Smaller Classroom Sizes
-A large enough teacher pool to allow schools to hire the number of qualified teachers necessary to meet the challenges of PACT
-All children are provided a quality education so that when they graduate, they are the ones deciding on whether they go to work, go to a technical college or go to a college or university and it is not the education system that decides for them
-More parents become actively involved with their childrens' education
-RPSEC/CSRA Hub meet the challenges of the New Year
-SC SSI continues to lead the state and country in science and mathematics reform
Again, we wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. May all your wishes for the New Year become realities. See you next year.
December '98 Newsletter Index
RPSEC Newsletter Index
Copyright © 1998 by the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.
URL: http://rpsec.usca.sc.edu/ /newsletter/Dec98/corner.html (December, 1998)
Ruth Patrick Science Education
Center of Excellence in Educational Technology
University of South Carolina Aiken
471 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801