Friday, August 19, 2011

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review

LITTLE ROCK – With the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Arkansas has begun the transition toward teaching national mathematics and English curricula known as Common Core State Standards.

The first step toward bringing Arkansas schools in line with Common Core is to introduce the national standards in kindergarten through second grade classes, beginning this school year. Next year the curriculum standards will be brought into classes from third to eighth grades. Ninth through twelfth grade classes will work under the Common Core standards beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.

So far schools in 42 states and Washington, D.C. have instituted Common Core. The impetus for Common Core came from governors and educators in individual states who want to ensure that the progress of a child's education will not suffer if his or her family moves to other states. Children who attend schools that teach the Common Core curriculum will be prepared for college and for entering the work force, the Arkansas Education Commissioner said.

The state Board of Education adopted Common Core standards for Arkansas public schools in July, 2010.

Also last week, a program to promote more emphasis on science and technology in Arkansas high schools was announced by the governor and the heads of state agencies in charge of education, job training and economic development. The pilot program is called STEM Works.

STEM is a acronym that has become popular in education circles. It stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There is a growing demand for workers with job skills in STEM related fields due to the changing nature of manufacturing and industry.

The STEM Works program will change how certain high schools teach technology classes to allow students to participate more directly in projects. Cross County High School in Cherry Valley and Lincoln High School in Washington County will be the first schools in Arkansas to follow this new model and become what will be called "New Tech High Schools." The goal is to have 10 "New Tech High Schools" by next year.

STEM Works will also provide resources to state universities so they can graduate more new teachers in scientific and technical subjects.

Another model that STEM Works will promote is based on the successes of the EAST Initiative in numerous Arkansas high schools. That stands for Environmental and Spatial Technology.

Various state agencies have allocated $2.25 million for the STEM Works program and private industries have donated significant amounts.

Duck Season Is Set

The Game and Fish Commission has approved a 60-day season for waterfowl on these dates: November 19-27, December 8-23 and December 26-January 29. The youth hunt is set for February 4-5.

The duck bag limit of six will consist of no more than four mallards (two hens); three wood ducks; two redheads; one black duck; two pintails; one canvasback; one mottled duck, and two scaup. The different seasons for goose can be found at the Commission's web site at

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