VCPUSD super explains new Core Standards at local schools
August 21, 2013The Roadrunner has received several inquiries about the new Common Core State Standards (commonly abbreviated as CCSS), which are now in force at our local schools. Last week we interviewed Superintendent Lou Obermeyer of VCPUSD about the standards.
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Q: What are the Common Core State Standards?
A: The new standards are designed to be relevant in the real world and to make sure all students graduate high school with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and careers. They have been adopted by more than 45 states and were developed by teachers, principals, parents, education experts and feedback from the public.
The standards establish what students need to learn but they don't tell teachers how to teach. Teachers will continue to create lesson plans and tailor instruction to the unique needs of the students in their classrooms. The best understanding of what works in the classroom comes from the teachers who are in them, which is why the standards allow each teacher in each classroom to figure out what works best for students.
Q: What's different about the new standards?
A: The CCSS stress conceptual understanding and procedural skills to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at high levels. For example, the math standards will prepare students to think and reason mathematically, applying math to real world issues and challenges. The English Language Arts standards require a range of high-quality readings through a combination of informational and literary text, including fiction, poetry, non-fiction and historical documents.
Q: What is the district doing to prepare teachers to teach the CCSS?
A: We had experts in common core instructional strategies and assessments working with our teachers last year and we are continuing trainings this year. Teachers are working in grade level and subject area teams to plan lessons and revise assessments.
Q: What will the new assessments be like?
A: The new assessments will ask students to think critically and solve problems — the same skills the students will be learning throughout the year. Students will be asked to reason through complex problems and think in-depth about what they have read.
Q: Does the district need more technology for the CCSS?
A: The state budget included additional funds for school districts to use to implement the new standards. Our district will receive about $700,000 to implement the CCSS and these funds will be used to train teachers and purchase additional technology. Students will use laptops, computers and/or iPads to take the new assessments, which are called the Smarter Balanced Assessment System. Our district already has the infrastructure and most of the technology required for the new assessments because we've focused on technology in our classrooms the past several years.
Q: What do teachers think about this change?
A: Our teachers are excited about this transition to the CCSS. They've been working together for many months so that they are prepared and ready to teach the CCSS this year.
Q: How can parents find out more about the CCSS?
A: Teachers and principals will talk with parents at Back to School Nights and throughout the year about the shift to CCSS. Parents can go to http://www.cde.ca.gov (California Department of Education) for additional information about the standards and for sample performance tasks (assessments).