State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Showcases Teacher Trainings Kicking Off California’s Common Core Summer

By Tina Jung

Sacramento -

With the state budget setting aside $1.25 billion to implement new standards in California’s public schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson kicked off California’s Common Core Summer with a daylong seminar to help teachers instill deeper learning of mathematics in their students.

“For teachers, this is California’s Common Core Summer. They’ve just finished their own school year, but they’re already back in class—because they see the opportunity Common Core presents to prepare students for a successful future,” Torlakson said. “They’re setting aside the one-size-fits all curriculum, recycling the `drill and kill’ worksheets, and dumping the multiple choice `bubble tests’—replacing them with Common Core mathematics, which focuses on a few key areas at each grade level so students learn the skills they really need, step by step.”

At Torlakson’s direction, the California Department of Education (CDE) convened the first of two showcases on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to help teachers learn how to bring the new standards to life. Today’s event, which brought together 150 educators from across the state, was focused on mathematics. A showcase focused on English-language arts instruction is scheduled for later in June.

“The focus today is on teachers—because the success of Common Core depends on great teaching,” Torlakson said. “We’re remodeling our education system, but the standards are just the blueprints. The real work, the heavy lifting of this remodeling project, will be done by teachers. That’s why we’ve brought some of California’s best teachers here, to learn from each other about putting the Common Core to work in the classroom.”

Torlakson noted that school districts and county offices of education throughout the state were sponsoring similar training sessions as California makes the transition to the new standards.

          The Math CCSS Showcase allowed participants to learn how to integrate CCSS math content standards and practices, engage in activities that foster knowledge and the art of teaching, and share strategies for increasing student engagement.

The English-Language Arts CCSS Showcase is set for June 24, 2013, also in Sacramento. Participants will learn how to build their knowledge through content-rich information; develop strategies for reading, writing, and speaking that are grounded in text evidence; and learn how to interpret and teach complex reading materials.

Participants at both events were to also have opportunities to learn how to incorporate elementary or secondary instructional strategies; hear about strategies to support English learners, students with disabilities, and struggling readers; and see techniques that support college and career readiness.

The showcases are the latest in a series of steps taken by the CDE and the State Board of Education (SBE) to prepare educators for the transition to CCSS:

• August 2010: The SBE adopted the CCSS to provide a practical way to prepare children for the challenges of a constantly changing world—by learning step-by-step the real-world skills they need for college and careers.

• December 2011: The CDE released a publication called A Look at Kindergarten Through Grade Six in California Public Schools: Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics to provide information for educators on curriculum planning and professional development in the CCSS.

• March 2012: Torlakson and SBE President Mike Kirst presented the CCSS Systems Implementation Plan for California to the executive and legislative branches of state government.

• September 2012: The CDE made available the first in a series of professional learning modules designed to deepen educator understanding of the CCSS.

• November 2012: The SBE adopted new English Language Development Standards aligned to the CCSS designed to help English learners build critical knowledge and skills.

• November 2012: The SBE also approved the first supplemental instructional materials aligned to the CCSS.

• January 2013: The SBE approved sweeping updates to the state’s career technical education standards that reflect rapid changes in technology and set higher academic goals aligned to the CCSS.

• January 2013: Torlakson presented Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment System to the Legislature.

• March 2013: The CDE joined the national Partnership for 21st Century Skills network of 18 states, which helps provide additional resources to implement the CCSS.

• March 2013: The SBE approved anchor standards for English-language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects, which completed California’s adoption of the CCSS.

• March 2013: The CDE, in collaboration with the San Diego County Office of Education, provided the Spanish translation of the CCSS for English-language arts.

• April 2013: The CDE opened public comment on the draft framework for the CCSS for math. This 60-day public review closes today; a subsequent review period will open in July. The SBE may take final action in the fall.

• April 2013: The CDE hosted another CCSS showcase for educators in math, English-language arts, and literacy in history/social science, science, and technical subjects.

• May 2013: The SBE approved the timeline to adopt instructional materials aligned to the CCSS for math.

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