Oh, the times they are a-changin’


Yesenia Folgar

Beginning this semester in the Math and English departments, the Downey Unified School District will require teachers to change their curriculum. Mrs. Orca has changed her curriculum after six years of teaching to fit the curriculum requirements.

Moises Martinez, Community Section Editor

Beginning this spring, the Downey Unified School District will be implementing a series of changes to the curriculum that will affect primarily the English and Math departments.

This year, students will no longer be required to sit through the traditional California State Testing. Instead, a new exam called the Smarter Balance test will be administered using Google Chromebook computers. Downey High School will be running a field-test of the exam with junior students this Spring. The new exam, which consists of writing, arithmetic, and computer components for math, aims to assess the new Common Core Assessments. This new curriculum focuses on students’ ability to think critically and solve real-world problems.

Mrs. Correa, who teaches Trigonometry and Geometry, is only one of the many teachers being affected by the changes.

“It’s a challenge because I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I’m pretty set on my style of teaching,” Correa said. “The new problems involve more complex steps to finding the answers, so I’ll have to change the way I teach those concepts too.”

In accordance with the new test, teachers will have to shift from their traditional “number-seeking” problems to a more application-oriented curriculum. That is to say, math teachers will focus more on teaching students how to apply their math skills to real world situations.

Mrs. Orca, who teaches Geometry and Trigonometry, is another teacher who will have to change her lesson plans.  Orca agrees the changes will require more input and focus from teachers.

“It’s going to be more of a challenge, but hopefully these changes will help students answer questions like ‘Why is math relevant?’” Orca said.

Another subject area undergoing drastic changes is the English department. Beginning this year, core English classes will incorporate ERWC (Expository Reading and Writing Course) modules into their curriculum. The change will bring a greater focus on writing and analytical thinking and intends to prepare students for college-level English classes.

Although the changes in English may seem benign, they come with certain consequences. Due to the extra curriculum being added, there will be less time for teaching other subjects such as literature. Mrs. Macomber, a freshman and sophomore English teacher of 20 years, agrees she is conflicted about the minimized coverage of novels.

“The logical part of me sees the benefits for the student,” Macomber said. “They should be prepared when they go out into the workforce and have to fill out contracts related to their careers and not have problems with that, yet, as an English teacher, it’s hard for me to think outside the box that we will not be teaching novels in an English class.”

Though most students are unaware of the changes, some have noticed a difference in the classroom, such as the use of iPads for research. One student, sophomore Anthony Campos, agrees with the use of computers.

“I think it’s great that we’re using iPads more now because its makes class interesting and we won’t have to struggle with books and taking a bunch of notes,” Campos said.

As time goes by, students are beginning to experience a greater use of technology in the classroom. At today’s pace of changing technology, educators must find a way to keep up with students’ educational needs. Teachers will receive general training with using the Chromebooks in the classroom next school year.

“Change is always hard for people to accept,” Macomber stated, “but in this case I think it’s necessary.”

Although not all educators agree with the alterations to their lesson plans, they will have to concede to them rather soon. Regardless of the politics from above, teachers will continue to educate their students and students will continue to adapt to their ever-changing classrooms.