SALT LAKE CITY — School is out for the summer break, but thousands of Utah teachers are still in the classroom. They are in training to prepare for new Core Curriculum standards.
The Utah State Board of Education recently passed the new Core Curriculum standards and lawmakers allocated a million dollars so that teachers across the state could receive the necessary training.
"What we're trying to do is make ourselves better as educators so we can turn around and help the student to be more successful," said teaching trainer Tatum Bunker.
The teachers are learning how to implement the Common Core Initiative, or new national standards, into their teaching, and many of them said that it's a whole new approach of helping students think critically rather than simply regurgitating information.
For example, in the previous teaching style, students would read a passage and identify three points. With the new standards, students would be asked to write an opposing argument to the writer's opinion.
"It's going to give (the students) confidence so they can figure things out for themselves," said teacher Ben Gowans.
What I've learned this week is going to enhance the scores of my students as well as my teaching.
–Connie Johnson, teacher
Other teachers said that the new teaching style would also help their students to get better grades.
"What I've learned this week is going to enhance the scores of my students as well as my teaching," said teacher Connie Johnson.
Teachers believe this should reassure parents and critics, many who consider national standards a federal intrusion. They say Utah teachers should decide how to meet the standards and design their own curriculum. However, many of the teachers said this new program will be better suited for their students.
"My students are going to see that and feel that and to know that the better prepared I am, the better I can prepare them and that's the key," said teaching trainer Shelia Johnston.
The training has made the educators in Utah excited for the future. Many said it will prepare them to create better classroom comprehension and shape students who are better prepared for college.
However, the Core Curriculum standards are an evolving process. Last week, the Utah State Office of Education decided to re-introduce cursive writing to the language requirements because so many people thought it was needed.