Glendale schools prepare for new state standards

A new two-year plan is underway in Glendale schools to train educators as they get ready to start teaching the new Common Core State Standards, which are designed to improve students' critical thinking skills.

All but a handful of states — including Nebraska, Texas, Minnesota, Virginia and Hawaii — have adopted the standards, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a state-led effort that established a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt.

The math standards that promote precision and in-depth problem-solving will replace those adopted by California in 1997.

The English language arts standards require that students become adept in speaking, reading and writing.

Other areas of study would have students analyze the media to help them process information they see and hear.

Ultimately, the goal is for students to leave high school prepared for college or a career.

Glendale Unified Asst. Supt. Katherine Fundukian Thorossian has overseen the creation of the two-year plan to train educators in the standards beginning this summer in order for teachers to fold them into the curriculum by next June.

By the spring of 2015, Glendale students in the third through eighth grades, as well as high school juniors, will be tested on the new standards.

The exams will be taken on computers in what's known as "adaptive testing," where a student's wrong answer would lead to a relatively easy question. Conversely, students' correct answers would be followed-up with more difficult questions.

A three-day institute for administrators to learn the new standards, in what Thorossian called "no administrator left behind," began Wednesday.

"The most powerful professional development that I've ever participated in is one that includes what I'm actually teaching in the classroom, and that's what these modules are scheduled to do," she said.

The administrators are expected to develop an initial plan for each school to transition to the standards by this Friday.

Secondary and elementary teachers will focus on history, science and English language arts this year and on mathematics the following year.

Math is proving to be more challenging in developing the best way to teach it because state officials are still working out specifics for the standards, according to Thorossian.

"The math standards seem a little more fluid than we feel comfortable with in cementing what our course sequence will be," she said.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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