Core Curriculum

English Language Arts

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YDC English language arts  (ELA) teachers have received extensive professional learning to implement the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) which are defined by the Georgia Department of Education as a benchmarked set of performance standards for English language arts and literacy. All teachers have been charged to establish a staircase of increasing complexity in what students must be able to read and write so that all students are ready for the demands of college and career-level communication no later than the end of high school. Teachers are required to ensure on a weekly basis that students read a diverse array of classic and contemporary literature as well as challenging informational texts in a range of subjects. DJJ is aware that the standards mandate certain critical types of content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature, and the writings of Shakespeare. We intend to provide students with the knowledge base and instruction necessary to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning and relevant evidence as a cornerstone of writing.

All ELA teachers are to require that students gain, evaluate and present increasingly complex information, ideas and evidence through listening and speaking as well as through media. Finally we believe by providing students access to the standards this will help prepare students for real- life experience at college and in 21st century careers. The standards recognize that students must be able to use formal English in their writing and speaking but that they must also be able to make informed, skillful choices among the many ways to express themselves through language.

Mathematics

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DJJ has provided extensive professional learning to all YDC math teachers in an effort to provide students the opportunity to achieve a balance among concepts, skills, and problem solving as outlined in the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) for Mathematics . Teachers have been trained to stress rigorous concept development and real-world applications while maintaining a strong emphasis on computational and procedural skills. At all grades, teachers should develop lesson plans that encourage students to reason mathematically, to evaluate mathematical arguments both formally and informally, to use the language of mathematics to communicate ideas and information precisely, and to make connections among mathematical topics and to other disciplines.

Science

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DJJ has provided extensive professional learning for all YDC science teachers in an effort to implement the Georgia Performance Standards which are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills for proficiency in science. To become literate in science, students need to acquire understandings of both the characteristics of science and its content. The Georgia Performance Standards for Science require that instruction be organized so that these are treated together. Therefore, a content standard is not met unless applicable characteristics of science are also addressed at the same time. For this reason they are presented as co-requisites incorporating hands-on, student-centered and inquiry-based approaches (gadoe.org). Teachers have been trained to stress rigorous concept development and real-world applications. To bring science to life and make it engaging for students, teachers have also been trained on incorporating interactive websites into lessons for biology, life science, Earth Science, Earth Systems and Environmental Science.

Social Studies

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The Department of Juvenile Justice provides a balanced and effective social studies program which prepares students to be active, informed and responsible citizens. Social studies increases students’ awareness of their world, their nation, their state and themselves, giving them fundamental understandings of their society and others, both past and present. Students acquire and perfect skills of individual and group inquiry and examine a broad range of peoples and cultures. Students gain from social studies programs the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that enable them to be effective problem-solvers, good decision-makers and wise planners. Ultimately, social studies provides a context for students to use the skills introduced in other areas they learn to understand and practice the art of living and working together in a productive and constructive manner. DJJ students are required to obtain a total of three credits in social studies for graduation.

Social studies teachers are trained and well versed in the content. A content-specific Curriculum Specialist is assigned to both YDC and RYDC school sites in order to provide clear expectations for instruction, assessment and student work. Formal and Informal teacher observations are used to ensure students receive quality standards-based instruction by well trained and supported teachers. Teachers are provided the necessary professional learning to be able to isolate and identify skills needed to instruct students to think analytically, reason, communicate, and make connections with both primary and secondary sources to form logical conclusions. Student – centered instruction, standards-based classrooms, on-going coaching opportunities, and teacher’s ability to make the content relevant drastically increase student achievement.