Common Core Standards – an educational foundation that focuses on providing clear expectations of what students are expected to learn – are taking over the nation one classroom at a time.
Turlock Unified School District classrooms will soon join that trend, as the district is expected to implement Common Core Standards in the 2014-15 school year.
The Common Core Standards are comprised of both mathematical and English language arts standards. By providing a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn in each grade level, CCS are intended to help parents and teachers know what standards need to be met, and how they can help their students improve.
With an emphasis on learning in a way that is applicable and relevant to the real world, CCS are intended to help young students become sufficiently prepared with both knowledge and skills to be successful in college and future careers.
According to TUSD Interim Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dana Trevethan, the Common Core Plan for TUSD is the result of a collaboration of teachers, administrators, and other district educators who worked together to discuss the priorities needed to implement CCS in the district.
“We strategically picked stakeholders who we knew had the greatest level of expertise who can help us move forward in a positive manner,” said Trevethan. “We were doing it in a collaborative manner so that it was not being done single-handedly by one or two individuals who are calling all the shots and making all the decisions, but really with a combined, collective effort that everyone feels a part of.”
While the implementation and transition to CCS will result in some start-up costs, such as training and changes in new curriculum for students, Trustees and district employees expressed that the transition is vital for preparing students and ensuring the best education possible.
“The transition to Common Core Standards represents a shift in curriculum delivery and instructional practice,” said Jenny Henderson, Instructional Coach at Earl Elementary School. “TUSD teachers have the capacity to meet the demands and challenges of this change…Our district has been strategic in its planning of Common Core State Standards by convening a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including district and site level administration, instructional coaches, and classroom teachers to engage in a collaborative process to chart our direction for the implementation of Common Core State Standards.”
As a state-led effort, the Common Core Standards Initiative establishes a single set of educational standards for K-12 students. State governors and education commissioners led the development of the Common Core Standards Initiative, alongside the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The CCS was written by building on the best and highest state standards in existence, while examining the educational expectations of high-performing countries around the world.
Although each state within the U.S. has its own set of educational standards and requirements for students, the Common Core Standards provide a means for collaboration between states, whether in regards to the development of teaching materials and tools, or in policy. While each state independently chose whether or not to adopt the Common Core Initiative, the federal government was not involved in any way while developing the standards and implementation of CCS.
“The Common Core State Standards should be embraced by all of us as the educational age of reason,” said Ryan Hollister, a Science Teacher at Turlock High School. “It’s foundation for success is firmly rooted in our abilities to successfully integrate content mastery with math and english literacy skills. The resulting new curriculum will be engaging, interactive, rigorous and thought provoking for our students. We must take advantage of this new, enlightened paradigm by embracing intellectual interchange with our colleagues, and experimenting with new instructional strategies that better support the goal of creating students who can critically think and problem solve.”