Thursday, October 30, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Common Core standards: Ready or not, we can’t wait

By Tom Torlakson and Michael Kirst

Across California, teachers, parents and school administrators are working to make the transition to the new Common Core state standards. They are asking an understandable question: Are schools ready?

Let’s be candid: California’s chronically underfunded education system has been put through the financial wringer in recent years. At the height of the fiscal crisis, more than 2 million students — one child in three — attended a school in financial jeopardy.

Deep cuts affected virtually every school, sending class sizes soaring and forcing layoffs of thousands of teachers, counselors, school librarians, custodians, bus drivers and administrators. The state even mothballed its process for adopting new textbooks.

Thanks to a well-earned vote of confidence from California’s voters — and their approval of Proposition 30 — the worst of the school funding crisis appears to be behind us. But it will take years to restore what our schools have lost.

Given these circumstances, it’s tempting to conclude that California should hold off on implementation of the Common Core and delay using new tests designed to assess how well students are meeting these new standards.

That would be a terrible mistake. Because, as important as school readiness for the next generation of tests is, student readiness for the demands of careers and college must take precedence. And giving our students the tools they need right now means moving as quickly as possible to implement the Common Core.

Inside the walls of our classrooms, we can debate the pace of change. But outside our schools, in the world of work our students continue to move into, there’s no sign that things are slowing down.

Basic skills employers once highly valued — reading comprehension, computational skills and the like — have become table stakes in the modern workplace. Without them, you’re not even in the game.

To succeed these days, it takes much, much more. Employers want workers who can think critically, tackle problems, communicate and collaborate — the very skills the Common Core was designed to teach.

That’s why California, along with 44 other states, adopted these standards in 2010. The state’s implementation plan, approved by the State Board of Education last year, provides support and technical assistance, but allows local teachers, principals and administrators to implement them in the way that best suits their local needs.

As challenging as this work is, it is taking place. A recent survey found that 87 percent of California school districts either already had an implementation plan in place or were in the process of creating one.

There are significant costs involved in training teachers, purchasing new materials and putting into place the technology needed to administer the new computer-based assessments that will replace California’s reliance on paper-and-pencil multiple choice tests.

We are working to make sure that appropriate resources, with flexibility for local decision making, are available to implement Common Core learning. Some funds can be shifted — refocusing training dollars, or buying new materials aligned to the Common Core instead of older materials. The state also can save millions of dollars if it suspends the use of outdated assessments next year to give schools time to gear up for the new exams in the spring of 2015.

The transition to these new standards is like a remodeling project for our schools. If you’ve lived through the process yourself, the analogy rings true. It starts with an incredible vision — like an architect’s renderings — of the things we want California’s children to know and be able to do. And like any remodeling project, the tough part is living with the dust and debris while the work goes on.

That’s where we are in California — and slowing down is the last thing our students need.

After all, the children who were in kindergarten when the Common Core standards were adopted are about to complete the third grade. Even with our best efforts, they’ll be finishing the fifth grade before they take their first end-of-year test on these new standards.

We must move forward now so that all children — no matter where they come from or where they live — receive a world-class education and graduate ready to contribute to the future of our state.

— Tom Torlakson is California’s state superintendent of public instruction. Michael Kirst is president of the California State Board of Education.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

.

News

Central Park’s oak tree deck in limbo

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Clinton at UCD to get out the vote, stump for locals

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Defense rests after Gardner’s courtroom complaints

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Stockton faces key ruling on bankruptcy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Pedestrian injured in hit-and-run collision

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Meet Archer, Poppenga and Sunder

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

UCD prof will speak in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Eichorn’s shredding event benefits STEAC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

All voices welcome at sing-along

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Community forum devoted to returning military personnel

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Media Access: Treasures from the vault get new life

By Autumn Labbe-Renault | From Page: A3

 
Kids ready to trick-or-treat for UNICEF

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Celebrate Day of the Dead on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Yolo Food Bank invites locals to run with the flock

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

 
‘The Cooler Bandits’ documentary will be screened in Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Low-water landscape workshop planned

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Sending ‘Hugs from Home’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Yolo RCD welcomes new executive director

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A5

 
Volunteers sought to advocate for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Sudwerk Ultimator arrives with a vengeance

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
.

Forum

She has all the leverage

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Duo are the best-informed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Humble and hard-working

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Yes on 47 for our safety

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Something’s missing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

This is a terrific trio

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Elect Poppenga to school board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Sports

Something’s got to give as Aggies host UNC

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Davis vs. Goliath: Devils travel to take on Grant

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

DHS escapes with a Senior Night victory

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggies hope to turn Gauchos into net zombies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

MVP Bumgarner leads Giants to World Series win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie loss allows Gauchos to tie them for first

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Warriors whip Kings in their season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Youth roundup: Diamonds have a ball at Disco-Tech

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

JV/frosh roundup: Rio falls to DHS boys, who then take fifth at tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Double dip for Devil tennis team

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

.

Features

What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10

 
College Corner: Going the honors route

By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A10

Chávez kids are movin’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

Wineaux: Calming and curbing the crouching curmudgeon

By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A11

 
Hear Amplified DNA on Saturday at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Thursday Live! plans jazz and blues

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

International Film Series continues with ‘Australia’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
All are welcome at Fun Time Follies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Joseph Francis Gray

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, October 30, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9