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Common Core standards approaching for schools
Students from kindergarten through high school in most of the country, including Kitsap County, will see curriculum based on new education standards starting in August 2014.
The Common Core standards are meant to encourage analytic thinkers and to close perceived gaps in what high-school graduates learn and what colleges require, lining out standards in English and math meant to make sure a kindergartner entering school in 2014 graduates high school in 2027 ready for college or work.
Local schools say they are already gearing up for the new standards.
Greg Lynch, superintendent at the Central Kitsap School District, said that since the standards are almost nationwide, the transitions should be easier for the half of his district’s students, which are from mobile military families and may have seen them in other schools.
Parents and students will see a change in focus less on regurgitating information and more on critical thinking, said Jeni Zapatka, a professional development specialist at Central Kitsap School District.
“It’s teaching them to be analytical, instead of just responding,” Zapatka said.
Central Kitsap schools’ challenge is how to train teachers for the new standards when the district is already strapped for cash, Lynch said.
“It costs time and money to educate our educators,” he said.
During the 2012-2013 school year, teachers will get training on the Common Core. Lynch said some of a $2.5 million Department of Defense Education Activity Grant will help pay for some of the overtime required to train teachers.
Zapatka said the Common Core isn’t a new standardized test or tied to No Child Left Behind, which the Washington Office of Public Instruction is in the process of waiving.
Common Core isn’t meant to outline exactly how to teach or what specific texts schools will use.
Rather, the Common Core lists things students should be able to do. One of the reading requirements for a 6th grader, for instance, is whether he or she can identify a theme in a piece of literature and how it’s supported by certain details. In math, a 6th grader should understand fractions, multiplication, division and negative integers.
The Bremerton School District is looking forward to the standards, said Assistant Superintendent Linda Jenkins. She thinks it will save her district money and time when buying textbooks.
“Publishers’ criteria varied widely in the past, we had to spend a lot of time aligning materials,” Jenkins said.
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices drafted the Common Core in 2009, and since the standards have been adopted in some form by every state except Texas and Alaska.