Saturday, March 28, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Districts prep for new education standards

assessments test, 3/21/13

Marc Monachello, left, the technology coordinator with the Dixon Unified School District, learns about the new Smarter Balanced testing program from Jim Wasielewski, the technology coordinator with the Vacaville Unified School district recently at Hemlock Elementary School. Students at the school are pilot testing part of the Smarter Balanced assessment test. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | March 31, 2013 |

FAIRFIELD — Classroom learning guidelines in California are getting a “rigorous” revamp in a bid to align educational standards with 44 other states, something many local educators describe as positive.

The Common Core State Standards, which guide teachers in math and English language arts, were adopted by California in 2010. The core standards, which are a voluntary adoption, are shared goals and expectations across the participating states concerning knowledge and skills children need at each grade level.

They are expected to be fully implemented, which includes a new assessment test to replace the Standardized Testing and Reporting assessment, by the 2014-15 school year. The new test is called Smarter Balanced, or SBAC, named after the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the state-led group that’s developing the assessment.

California is a governing state within the consortium.

The start date coincides with the end of the No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress goals that require all students to be on the “proficient” level by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

By 2014-15, all accountability measures will be tied to the Smarter Balanced assessments, said Mark Frazier, Vacaville School District’s chief academic officer.

The primary reason for the change is to better prepare children for success in college and careers in a global setting, said Sandy Jessop, director of district and school support for the Solano County Office of Education.

Curriculum changes include such things as an emphasis on nonfiction reading and grade-level shifts concerning various math subjects such as Algebra I, which under the new standards will be taught beginning in the eighth grade.

With the changes come growing pains. Current textbooks aren’t aligned with the new standards. Frazier said Vacaville spent more than $1 million for a new English language arts program three years ago for kindergarten through sixth grade. Curriculum to match the new standards isn’t developed yet and “there is no way (districts) can go out and buy brand new curriculum,” he said.

“We’ll have to adapt,” he said.

One of the changes is learning fractions in third grade instead of second grade, but the second-grade textbooks house the fraction lessons.

“We’ll have to be flexible,” he said.

The test is computer-based instead of paper and pencil. Local districts wonder about the logistics of testing an entire school using one computer lab with a varying number of computers.

“That’s going to be a big problem,” Frazier said.

Rollout has already begun. Some Solano County schools are taking part in Smarter Balanced pilot testing and some teachers are beginning to think about how they’re going to implement the new standards into their classroom.

“This is the first wave and change in the teaching profession (I’ve experienced),” said Heidi Studer, a teacher at Hemlock Elementary School in Vacaville, who has been teaching for nine years.

Her sixth-grade class recently took part in the pilot testing. She said she is already contemplating the changes she’s going to need to make in her teaching to reflect the new standards and assessment test.

“Teachers are going to have to change their practices,” she said.

The implementation of Common Core concepts gives rise to a higher level of thinking, she said.

“Kids are going to need to express themselves more . . . as opposed to choosing an answer,” she said.

The standards are designed to give children deeper critical-thinking concepts that relate classroom teachings to the real world. They encompass a wide variety of skills aside from critical thinking, such as problem-solving, communication, collaboration and writing. The new assessment test, which involves a lot more writing, creative thinking and problem-solving, will reflect the new standards.

“The Smart Balanced assessments give students an opportunity to express their levels of problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking,” Jessop said.

Frazier said the new standards are “the same key standards, but the rigor has changed.”

“You can trace progress,” he said. “The old standards were interspersed, not cohesive. It was like each grade level had a group of people working on the standards and didn’t talk to each other. Things just got plunked in.”

Not everyone is happy with the new standards. Adoption has created conversation for bloggers and columnists and spawned groups such as Utahns Against Common Core. Closer to home is the group Californians United Against Common Core. Its website calls the new program a “one size fits all” education, citing lower standards and the costs behind the change.

Only four states have not fully adopted the new standards: Alaska, Texas, Nebraska and Virginia. Minnesota adopted the standards in English language arts, but not in math.

“We believe that the standards we developed in Minnesota offer a more rigorous standard and are certified college- and career-ready by both our Minnesota State College system and the University of Minnesota,” said Charlene Briner, director of communication for the Minnesota Department of Education.

The states that adopted the standards had two choices for yearly assessments: Smarter Balanced or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

As the rollout continues, more districts will participate in pilot testing of the Smarter Balanced assessment test throughout May.

Cambridge and Scandia elementary schools are participating in the Travis School District, said Jim Bryan, the assistant superintendent for education services. In the Fairfield-Suisun School District, the Matt Garcia Learning Center already did some pilot testing. More testing will be done at David Weir, Cordelia Hills, Cleo Gordon, Laurel Creek and Nelda Mundy elementary schools, plus Rodriguez High School, said Sheila McCabe, the district’s director of secondary education.

“It’s a good step,” Frazier said. “They want to get our students to a different level of rigor.”

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

Common Core

For more information, check the websites for local school districts or go to:

  • www.corestandards.org
  • www.smarterbalanced.org
  • www.cde.ca.gov
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Amy DutschMarch 31, 2013 - 3:48 pm

    Commom core standards are the worst thing to happen to education in a LONG time. We are dumbing down our children in some areas (math) and pushing them too hard in others (ELA). Textbooks shouldn't be the same level as literature. And let's not forget the data tracking, and WHERE these standards came from. A private foundation should not be funding PUBLIC education!! Get the facts!! Stop Common CORE!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Luncheon honors women for their work to help others

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Sheepdogs, handlers flock to Rio Vista for trials

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Fraisure Smith hearing delayed twice Friday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 14 Comments | Gallery

 
Solano Rotary clubs honor top firefighters from across county

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Eatery to host event to support child with cancer

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

 
Project begins to brighten downtown Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 21 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: March 26, 2016

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Suisun police log: March 26, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Going home to mother

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10, 2 Comments

 
.

US / World

 
Jury says Silicon Valley firm did not discriminate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Gov. Brown signs $1 billion water plan for dry California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Public defender: San Francisco jail inmates forced to fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
NY mayor: Someone may have ‘inappropriately’ tapped gas line

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Feds: Baltimore jail illegally keeping juveniles in solitary

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Autopsies determine children found in freezer were slain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Fetus debate looms following charges in womb-cutting case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
 
‘Sopranos’ star’s apartment destroyed by blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Pilot who scared passengers sues airline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

‘Mad Men’ costumes, props head to Smithsonian

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US economy showing signs of durability

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

Mexico City businesses cite losses during Bond filming

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Nelson set to return to role as Coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
German airline could face ‘unlimited’ damages for Alps crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Co-pilot appeared healthy, but may have hidden illness

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
About 4,000 fishermen stranded on Indonesian islands

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Iran says nuke talks focused despite Yemen crisis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Warships move in key strait as airstrikes widen in Yemen

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

At least 9 dead as militants attack hotel in Somali capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned by Italy high court

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Living

Books as decor: Versatile but meaningful design elements

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR1Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
Today in History: March 28, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: March 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
My elderly mother is so stingy I’m finding excuses not to visit her

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

Horoscopes: March 28, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
The newest fitness trend: Mixing it up

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Entertainment

‘Stomp’ stopped by NYC blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Mannequin museum show hits New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
‘Teen Mom’ star charged in picture posting case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

People: Zane Malik

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Larry David Broadway role handed to Jason Alexander

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Evans helps desperate Pelicans end skid vs. Kings, 102-88

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Ranuado goes 6 for Rangers’ but A’s rally for 7-6 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Notre Dame beats Stanford women 81-60, advances to Elite Eight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curry, Thompson lead Warriors in rout over Grizzlies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
A-Rod’s cousin pleads guilty in Florida steroids case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Durant to have another surgery, miss rest of season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chicago rooftop owner charged with trying to defraud Cubs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gift returns: Sterling wife wants house, $1 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Shaq acknowledges regret about decision to leave Magic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NASCAR topic: Cheating with tire pressure, or just hot air?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hot Rod Hundley, former NBA player and Jazz announcer, dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Area resident Jimmy Walker takes lead in Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Logano wins Martinsville pole; Elliott to start 27th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for March 28, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Home Seller 3/28/2015

Books as decor: Versatile but meaningful design elements

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR1Comments are off for this post | Gallery

Real estate transactions for March 28, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2