Oakhaven Elementary School parent says new curriculum isn’t being equally implemented

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- We’ve told you how the state has changed its school curriculum in order to make more students college-ready in Tennessee.

Shelby County has experienced hurdles as many students aren’t at the right academic achievement levels, but now some parents say the changes are hurting more than helping.

“I noticed one of my babies had three F’s, and that was new to me," said one mom who wanted to remain anonymous.

She says her third-grader’s grades at Oakhaven Elementary School recently took a turn.

“It shocked me because I felt as though there was something I wasn’t doing as a parent; I wasn’t paying attention to her for her grades to go this low.”

She says she spoke with her child’s teacher and found out there’s a new timed test being used for third-graders, although a Shelby County Schools spokesperson says timed tests cannot be used toward grades.

But the parent says her daughter’s twin, who’s in a different class at the same school, isn’t having any problems.

“They’re saying each child in the third grade is doing the same thing, but if that’s the case, why is one of my children failing and the other one is not?”

She thinks teachers are implementing the new statewide curriculum differently in their classrooms and says other parents have expressed similar concerns.

We caught up with Superintendent Dorsey Hopson recently about the changes.

“The material's very difficult," he said. "It's very rigorous, but we feel like kids can't achieve the levels they're going to be asked to achieve if we don't put the right instructional materials in their hands.”

He said students' test scores would likely negatively be affected as they adjust to higher standards, but the mom we spoke with worries one of her children will have a long-term impact.

“At least let us know something, so we’ll be more prepared to deal with our children as parents," she said.

SCS spokespeople said they're going to look into this further and sent the following statement:

Teachers may do timed activities for practice to help students memorize lesson content, but there is nothing in the District’s new curriculum that requires timed assignments and tests to be graded. When schools are getting ready for the state testing periods in the spring, teachers may do timed practice tests to help students prepare — but again, these are typically for practice.  If a student is having difficulty in his/her class, the parent should definitely meet with the teacher, principal and/or counselor to find out what resources may available to help.

They also said there are resources available for parents if their kids need more support, such as programs like this one.