Porterville Unified School District will begin the process of integrating Common Core standards and assessments into the district’s curriculum during the 2012-2013 academic school year.(Image by Sierra/October 3, 2012)
Porterville Unified School District is hard at work implementing the Common Core State Standards for all schools in the district.
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help. The standards are designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.
Adopted in California in August 2010, the K-12 Common Core State Standards were developed through a state-led effort to establish consistent and clear education standards for English language arts and mathematics.
These learning goals help ensure that students meet college and work expectations, are prepared to succeed in a global economy and society, and are provided with rigorous content and application of higher knowledge thinking. Benchmarked against international standards, the Common Core Standards assist students in their preparation to complete the requirements for enrollment at a California public university.
“We are being asked by the district office to implement a goal to prepare to move the essential standards to the common core state standards particularly because in two years we will no longer be doing the CSTs,” said Teresa Chacon, English teacher at Granite Hills.
The initiative was launched by and supported by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. In the Common Core adoption process, California added supporting standards to complete the unique picture necessary for California students.
The Common Core also added strength to the existing California standards by including additional standards for vocabulary and new standards for collaborative discussions. Literacy standards that focus on reading and writing instruction during history/social studies, science, and technology also were included. In mathematics, standards were added to demonstrate a stronger emphasis on number sense and algebraic thinking. The Common Core in California’s schools will occur in stages over the next few years.
Martha Stuemky, Director of Programs and Assessment, described how PUSD will begin to implement this change in student assessment: “I will oversee the assessment portion of common core; however, the pilot test will take place in mid-October. I will be participating in a webminar in late September to find out additional information on the pilot test. The pilot school (Harmony Magnet Academy) where the pilot test will take place was selected by ETS (Educational Testing Service). ETS pre-selected a number of students that will be taking the pilot test in October.”
Standards also help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success standards are not the only thing that is needed for our children’s success, but they provide an accessible roadmap for our teachers, parents, and students.
The Common Core State Standards are part of a state-led effort to give all students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Individual states choose whether or not to adopt these standards.
“We will still be assessing the students but the assessments will be computerized” said Chacon.
When the new Common Core Assessments are actually in place, in the 2014-15 school year, students in California will take tests being written by a company called Smarter Balanced. By taking at least part of the tests on computers or other high-tech devices (i.e. tablets), the system is able to adapt to a student's skill level.
“Based on student responses, the computer program adjusts the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment. For example, a student who answers a question correctly will receive a more challenging item, while an incorrect answer generates an easier question. By adapting to the student as the assessment is taking place, these assessments present an individually tailored set of questions to each student and can quickly identify which skills students have mastered,” said Jeff Bottoms, Director of Curriculum and Instructional Technology.
These standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce and that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. The standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that our students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace.
“Smarter Balanced is currently identifying the type of technology we need to have in place for the 2014-15 assessments. Generally speaking, the new Smarter Balanced assessments will support desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets (including iPads, Windows, and Android). Many of the hardware requirements are still being refined,” said Bottoms.
This will ensure that we maintain America’s competitive edge, so that all of our students are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete with not only their peers here at home, but with students from around the world.
“What I’m concerned with is who is going to teach those kids how to do the computer work,” said Chacon.
The National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), among other organizations have been instrumental in bringing together teachers to provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards.
English-language arts and math were the first subjects chosen for the common core state standards because these two subjects are skills, upon which students build skill sets in other subject areas. They are also the subjects most frequently assessed for accountability purposes. The NGA Center and CCSSO will not be developing standards in other subjects and are now focusing on implementing the standards in ELA and mathematics.
Harmony Magnet Academy, where the pilot test will take place, was selected by ETS (Educational Testing Service). ETS pre-selected a number of students that will be taking the pilot test in mid-October.
The Common core will not come into full effect until the next few years.