Common Core State Standards start in Rancho Santa Fe School District next year

By Karen Billing

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, all school districts K-12 will plunge into a whole new way of learning when the Common Core State Standards are implemented. The new educational methodology aims to provide students with the practical real world skills they will need for college and their careers, more coherent and focused standards, more depth in understanding and higher levels of rigor for all learners.

There will be a standards-based report card and the Common Core will come with a whole new assessment — there will be no more STAR tests.

“Common Core is definitely the buzzword, it’s everywhere,” said Cindy Schaub, assistant superintendent of the Rancho Santa Fe School District. “It’s a way to prepare children for the challenges of the constantly changing world.”

The Rancho Santa Fe School District board received its first look at Common Core during a presentation at the Jan. 10 meeting. A parent information session will be held on Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center to help parents wrap their heads around this new way of learning and instruction. A second information session will be held in March.

“This is a long time coming,” said Schaub. “I can remember the roots of this 20 years ago. Global competitiveness is pushing us.”

Over the years, U.S. students have been shown to lag behind their international counterparts. Countries such as Finland, South Korea and Japan round out the best school systems in the international community and the Common Core reflects a way to match those methodologies. Another driving force for Common Core was the workforce field noticing that U.S. students’ creative, collaborative and critical thinking skills are lacking, Schaub reported.

The standards were initiated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and aim to create a foundation to work collaboratively across states and districts instead of each state having its own set of standards.

So far, 47 states have signed on and adopted the Common Core. The only states that have not are Alaska, Virginia and Texas.

With Common Core, each state was allowed to add up to 15 percent of additional state standards but they could not take any away. California added 8 percent.

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