Dec 04 2013

Common Core Transforms Long Beach Unified School District’s Modus Operandi

As the district prepares to roll out tests based on the standards, parents and educators are already noticing improvements.

The Common Core Standards are rewriting the rules in K–12 education. While the standards have become a bit of a political football in some states, for most school districts and states that have adopted them, the standards are seen as an essential tool to keep U.S. education competitive with the rest of the world.

In an article in the Press-Telegram, Long Beach Unified School District educators and administrators shared some of the district’s results and developments since adopting the standards in 2010.

“I think the most important thing for parents to know about Common Core is that it’s a set of rigorous standards that helps students to be college-ready as well as career ready,” said Pamela Seki, director of LBUSD’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development, in the Press-Telegram article. “We know that the world has changed dramatically in the last 20 years and students need to be able to fully participate in a technologically demanding global workforce.”

Challenging teachers and students to push themselves more means using more complex approaches. No more one-word answers for fifth-grade students in the district, for example. And kindergartners aren’t off the hook either. The Press-Telegram says they’re learning phrases like “commutative property of addition” and being introduced to algorithms.

Holding signs printed with numbers and symbols, students in Bunting’s class demonstrated their ability to add. They displayed their critical thinking skills by eyeing a pocket chart filled with numbers and telling their teacher the few numbers that were missing from the chart.

The Common Core standards for math require kindergarten students to write numbers from 0 to 20, compare the number of objects in one group to the number of objects in another group and compare two numbers between 1 and 10, to name a few.

In addition to preparing the students and teachers for the new standards, districts are also outfitting their computer labs with state-of-the-art IT equipment that can handle the mandated online testing that comes with the standards. More than 100 computer labs across the district will get an upgrade ahead of the full-fledged launch of the standards next school year. Students will take pilot versions of the Common Core test in the spring, according to Jill Baker, LBUSD’s chief academic officer and assistant superintendent of the district’s elementary and K–8 schools.

Some parents in LBUSD are thrilled with the changes the district has made so far.

Karina Lara, president of Lafayette Elementary’s Parent Booster Club, believes the new Common Core-aligned curriculum has helped her fourth-grade daughter excel in math.

“Every year she struggled in math, but this year when I went to my parent-teacher conference, she actually understood what she was doing,” Lara said in another Press-Telegram story. “I was excited that they’re spending more time explaining it in different ways.”

How has your school deployed the Common Core standards? Are there noticeable shifts since adopting them?

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