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CV updating social studies classes and books

Sat., Feb. 16, 2013, midnight

Central Valley School District is reassessing its high school social studies programs because the last time it adopted new curriculum, the Oval Office was occupied by George W. Bush in his first term.

Through March 30 the district is testing new curriculum to replace outdated textbooks for world and U.S. history, civics, psychology and sociology, as well as Advanced Placement European and U.S. history, government and world history.

Some textbooks described the economy as strong and vital and one U.S. history book included a chapter called, “America enters a new century,” the 21st century. The book’s historical timeline stopped after that, district spokeswoman Melanie Rose said.

That means no references to the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the election of the nation’s first black president.

The district is increasing the graduation requirements in social studies for 2016 graduates to comply with state standards of three credits, plus a half credit of civics.

State standards also increased English requirements from three to five credits and decreased elective credits from 5.5 to four.

Because the district was due for a curriculum evaluation, officials requested a two-year waiver to undergo the social studies change.

The revamped social studies classes will also involve a massive online component, said Terrie VanderWegen, assistant superintendent, because 98 percent of the district’s students have computers and Internet at home.

When surveyed, 72 percent of parents were positive toward an online option.

The online tool allows instant feedback on homework assignments and provides extra sources of information for students, like maps and graphics, VanderWegen said.

A committee of educators chose 18 textbooks to test in 45 class periods at each of the district’s high schools: University, Central Valley and Barker.

The curriculum prospects also have printed material for the small number of students who lack computers and Internet at home, VanderWegen said.

The pilot takes place in two parts. Classes will examine one book through Feb. 28 and another through March 30. Parents of about 900 students who are in the pilot program can expect a survey after each section ends to evaluate what they thought of the program.

Teachers and students also will be able to express their opinions of the material, VanderWegen explained.

Although the current class material is outdated, she said, teachers were changing their lesson plans to include up-to-date information.

The new curriculum chosen by the school board in April will be implemented for the 2013-’14 school year.

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