During a meeting with the Glendale Unified’s superintendent on Tuesday, several local parents said their main concern about the state’s new curriculum is the new tests students will take in April and May.
Called Common Core State Standards, the curriculum uses computerized exams that adapt to students’ knowledge level by presenting students with more difficult or easier questions depending on how they answer the questions. A right answer will be followed by a more difficult question and a wrong answer will result in a more simple question.
Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan has been making the rounds to Glendale high schools this month to inform parents about the new curriculum and funding method for public education, and Tuesday he was at Glendale High School, where about 50 parents attended.
As districts across the state transition to the new exams this year, students’ results will not be returned during the first run. Instead, state officials will study how many technical glitches surface and how students do with the 60 to 80 minutes they’re given to complete the test, Sheehan said.
He also advised parents to visit www.smarterbalanced.org to see examples of test questions.
“We’re going to learn a lot from just this year,” he said.
The new Common Core State Standards, adopted by the majority of U.S. states, is aimed at fostering more in-depth, critical thinking and pushes each state to teach the same curriculum.
“From an educational standpoint, I wholeheartedly support the Common Core,” Sheehan said, partly because it is shifting education away from merely a “flashcard mentality,” he said.
Assistant Supt. Lynn Marso suggested that parents prepare their children for the new curriculum by exposing them to “real-life,” nonfiction materials such as newspapers and magazines, engage them in real-world math problems and encourage them to read and write in all genres.
School officials also addressed the new local control funding formula, which the state recently adopted for public schools.
The formula assigns additional dollars to school districts with more low-income, English-learner or foster care students.
Due to its demographics, Sheehan said Glendale Unified will likely receive more money to help those subgroups achieve than La Cañada schools, but fewer funds than Los Angeles Unified schools.
Approximately 50% of Glendale Unified’s students are made up of English-language learners or students who qualify for free or reduced lunches.
The new funding formula will also provide more money to lower class sizes. During the next few years, Glendale Unified plans to reduce its average class size from 26 students to one teacher in kindergarten through third grade to 20 students to one teacher.
District officials will hold another parent information meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of Hoover High School, 651 Glenwood Road.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.