• Common Core Standards for Schools Offer Academic Success

    National Standards Ensure Uniformity of Instruction Across the Board

    by Kacie Clark

    Pacific Grove Unified School District (PGUSD) teachers and staff have one more year to prepare for the nearly nationally adopted Common Core State Standards, which go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.

    The Standards have been adopted by 45 states nationwide. According to the California Department of Education Standards web page, the program is designed to equalize American education.

    “Having the same standards helps all students get a good education, even if they change schools or move to a different state,” the Dept. website said. “Teachers and local school officials, in collaboration with families and community partners, use these standards to help students achieve academic success.”

    The Dept. of Ed. continued; “ Teachers, parents, and education experts designed the standards to prepare students for success in college and the workplace.”

    According to PGUSD Superintendent Dr. Ralph Porras, the teachers and staff of   the district are excited about the new direction of the Common Core.

    “It’s a new era in education,” he said. “The standards are really a good thing. They emphasize critical thinking, communication, discussion, collaboration. It’s a change of pace after the No Child Left Behind Act.”

    The school district has been preparing for the new standards for some time, according to Porras.

    “We’ve had a couple of years to prep for it,” he said. “And we’ve really been on the ball. We’re ahead of the curve.”

    Some of the more “veteran” teachers may find that they are already familiar with the principles involved with the Common Core, Porras said, noting that it was only with the No Child Left Behind Act that current methods of standardization were put into place.

    “No Child Left Behind changed the way we were teaching. Education became kind of watered down. It was more breadth, less depth. The Common Core is more about the depth.”

    The new standards, which have an emphasis in collaboration and communication, are “challenging,” Porras said, “but not overwhelming.”

    At PGUSD, the development of the Core has really been a “grassroots” operation,” Porras said. A group of lead teachers have been immersing themselves in Core technique and information, and are now teaching it to their colleagues.

    “We’re really fortunate in this district,” Porras said,”to have such amazing teachers. We’re excited about this. We’re getting ready for next year.”

    One important aspect of the new Core Standards is that the assessments are primarily tech based- meaning the students take the tests on computers. This is part of the reason the proposed Education Technology Bond is such an important issue, Porras explained.

    Passage of the Ed. Tech Bond would allow the district to update and better maintain their technology and equipment, and really increase the scope of learning that can be done in a classroom.

    “We could be using technology as a tool,” Porras said, “It needs to be an everyday learning tool.” Student use of technology would include updated computers, software, and possibly tablets.

    It gives teachers the ability to enhance their instruction as well, through things like document cameras and Smart Boards, Porras said.

    Similarly, the idea of reconfiguration is also a key issue in light of these new standards. In an environment where collaborative effort between students and teachers is key, having all the students of the same grade level on the same campus would dramatically streamline the process, Porras said.

    “It would be a huge boon to have them together,” he said, “it would be more productive, and it really tunes right into the Common Core Standards.”

    “We all want the best for the students,” he said. “And the Standards are really well designed. We’re already in line.”

    posted to Cedar Street Times on July 11, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News, Kacie Clark, Schools

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