Citizen Panel Aids in School Policy

A citizens committee appointed by Orange Unified School District trustees to review curriculum standards is seeing some of its findings put into action.

Two months ago, the school board unanimously approved the group's recommendation to adopt the state's new standards for math and science and language arts.

Last week, the board agreed to hire an assessment director to wade through the mass of test data and figure out what it means for subjects being taught at all grade levels.

Trustees also adopted a long-running plan that details which administrator, department or faculty member is responsible for putting the new standards into place.

Eventually, the citizen panel will deal with resources and teacher training.

"I think if there is anything extraordinary about this committee, it is that we have set aside all the political nonsense and we are focused on the kids," said Veronica Norris, an attorney who is chairwoman of the group's math and science subcommittee.

Neil McKinnon, assistant superintendent for education, said many districts around the country are grappling with new standards as attention is drawn to education.

"I think the impact will be big," he said of the committee's work. "This is the board's way of involving more community people in the district and getting an overall perspective on what we want for the district."

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