Burbank's public school system is joining others in 45 states across the nation in implementing Common Core, the U.S. education initiative that require more rigorous curricula. It is hoped these new standards will better prepare our youth to succeed in college and the workplace.
As is so true any time dramatic change is on the horizon, the idea of introducing the new lessons leaves some stakeholders a little on edge. And there is some understandable apprehension about the first wave of tests, in spring 2015, that will assess how well the standards have been taught and grasped. It's widely expected that scores will dip, at least to a degree, in the early years of Common Core — the sort of worry that has a tendency to make school boards and parents jittery.
In Burbank Unified, another aspect of nervousness reared its head this week when school board member Larry Applebaum reported that several principals feel there's not enough computer lab space — or computers — to meet the demands of Common Core. Tests will be given by computer; pencil-and-paper exams will become an assessment tool of the past. This raises concerns of capacity: Will there be enough hardware (and software) available, and a place to put everyone when tests are in session?
There's no harm in voicing concerns, to be sure. But keep these things in mind: a new data center has already been approved by the school board, the district has earmarked $3 million to adopt the new standards and we believe Supt. Jan Britz when she says that the district's technology department has a handle on the requirements. It's time to just take a deep breath and jump in.