The Star-News

Change is constant and necessary in education

Sat, Dec 07 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Ed Brand

We live in world where speed and change are no longer the exception, they are the norm. We are constantly reminded of new technology, new products, new trends and new approaches in doing things that are different than way that we’ve been doing them for years.

While some people fear change or are uncomfortable whenever change is made, Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

In education, change is a constant – changes in curriculum, changes in classroom instructional methods, changes in measurement of student achievement. In the Sweetwater Union High School District, like in every other district in the nation, change is upon us with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

In the Sweetwater District, a new and exciting curriculum change in the area of mathematics was approved by our Board of Trustees this week that will positively affect all students in the district. This policy will change the way that mathematics are taught by introducing an Integrated Math course pathway.

In the past, students have been placed in courses that covered one specific area of mathematics such as algebra, geometry, etc. The new math course pathway in the Sweetwater District aligns with the integrated math pathway option in the CCSS and the newly approved California Department of Education Math Framework.

The new courses will take key concepts that students learn in math and organize them into coherent and rigorous courses that better prepare students for college and careers post-graduation. The Integrated Math courses will begin in the Fall of 2014.

It is our belief that by making these changes, students will have a greater opportunity for innovation and will be in a better position to apply their learning to real-world problems.

In a time where Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) education is in the forefront, it’s our responsibility to give our students a real opportunity to be competitive with the rest of the world in these subject areas. The introduction of Integrated Math begins that process and we know that we will succeed.

A critical step in ensuring that change is successful is to work corroboratively. We are very grateful to all those that provided their input for our math pathways - teachers, parents, students, alumni, our feeder elementary districts and partners from Southwestern College, San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

I’ve often said that if the rate of change outside of an organization is greater than the rate of change within the organization, then the organization will not succeed.

At the Sweetwater Union High School District, we continue to make efforts to keep pace with what is going on outside of our organization – the new technology, the new products and the new and innovative ideas that have not even been thought of yet.

We will continue to support efforts that bring opportunities directly to our students such as the partnership with Alliant University that brings the college experience into our own backyard. We’ll also continue to work hard on ensuring that our students take advantage of the Compact for Success, a program that has received numerous local, state and national recognitions over the past 14 years. Programs such as these are ways that we can not only keep up with change, but stay ahead of the curve in providing academic opportunities for our students.

We know that in the future, it will be our students who will be setting the pace for innovation in the world. That is why we will continue to make every effort to prepare our students today.

Brand is Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent.

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