Common Core testing, called Smarter Balanced Assessment Tests, will be implemented in the 2014-15 school year and replace the California Standardized Testing and Reporting tests given each year to students as part of the No Child Left Behind legislation.
That legislation mandated that all students in the country achieve “proficiency” learning level by the 2013-14 school year graded on a testing score of “far below basic” to “advanced’; in subject areas such as English Language Arts and Math.
Veronica Miranda, assistant superintendent of education al services for the PJUSD said the district is gearing up to follow the new set of guidelines for public schools that will go into effect in a year and a half going into effect during the 2014-15 school year and will be fully operational by spring 2015.
On Monday night, school board trustees voiced concern about the new program and its testing.
“How are students adjusting?” Trustee Kay Silva Johnson, asked Miranda “How do you get them to embrace this idea? There’s a lot of pressure on the kids.”
Miranda replied that school staff and teachers would do everything they could to work with the students.
“We’re not going to have a perfect system,” Miranda said.
At the same time, she said school district staff would offer support to students in a range of areas, including informing them about college and career trends.
“We’re helping our students to embrace change and prepare them for the Internet world,” Miranda said.
Trustees Bruce Kelly and Michele Bays were concerned that testing tools now being used will be scrapped — leaving the schools to begin anew.
“Is this what the state recommends?” Kelly said. “You’re asking us to get rid of all our tools. What are we going to use for the transition afterwards?”
Over the next couple of years, teachers and school staff will receive training on the new standards and learn how to administer tests to students.
“We’re trying to bridge as much as we can,” Miranda said.
Common Core aims to give students a deeper understanding of school subject matter and while preparing students for college and careers. In English Language arts, students will engage in more critical thinking and communication, express opinions and explain their answers both orally and in writing, while teachers focus on blocks of time to have students reading, thinking, writing and peaking activities.
Students will reason and make sense of math problems with numbers and with words in solving them, while at the same time explain how they arrived at the answer.
The goal is after a few years for students conduct to these tests on a computer. Paper and pencil can be used for the first three years and the computer will be used thereafter.
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