Schools and Libraries
February 20, 2013
At the Feb. 12 meeting of the Long Beach Board of Education, Kenneth Graham, the district’s newly appointed assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented a report to the board about the district’s progress toward implementing the Common Core Learning Standards. The Common Core Learning Standards for
English Language Arts and Mathematics, adopted by the New York State Board of Regents in 2011, provide clear and consistent guidelines to ensure that schools are giving students the skills they will need to be ready for college and careers in a global economy.
Mr. Graham began by explaining that these internationally benchmarked standards are focused and coherent, providing guidelines for rigor and application of instruction to align current curricula with 21st century college and work expectations. The Common Core standards, he added, are not entirely new. They are intended to build upon the strengths and lessons of previous state standards.
With regard to mathematics, Mr. Graham said that under the Common Core standards, the focus of instruction has shifted, requiring students to build skills across grades, develop speed and accuracy, think fast to solve problems, and be able to understand and use the skills they learn in real-world applications.
Teachers in all K-8 classrooms are currently teaching to the Common Core standards in mathematics. Implementation began with the rewriting of curricula, which took place over the summer. The district has also implemented the use of the enVision Math program, which is aligned to Common Core standards. In addition, students in grades 3-8 who need extra support services have been attending supplementary instruction through the Math Academy. Teachers have been receiving ongoing professional development, working with consultants and administrators, in grade-level groups and at teacher meetings.
Mr. Graham went on to explain the shifts in ELA and literacy instruction that have taken place as a result of the adoption of the Common Core standards. Students are now expected to read as much non-fiction as fiction texts, learning about the world through reading. They are being asked to read more challenging material more closely and discuss and write about what they have read using evidence drawn from the text. They are also expected to increase their academic vocabulary.
The implementation of the Common Core standards is being carried out in elementary classrooms throughout the district, beginning with phonics instruction in grades pre-K-1, using Letter People in pre-K classrooms and the Wilson FUNdations program in grades K-1. The Fountas and Pinnell benchmark assessment program has been implemented in grades K-5 to assess individual student progress, and all classrooms have been equipped with leveled reading libraries. Literacy blocks have been introduced, and all students are expected to develop a writing portfolio to help track and assess their progress. The elementary ELA curriculum has undergone revisions to meet the Common Core standards. Teachers continue to receive ongoing professional development.
Mr. Graham pointed out that there have been recent gains in the percentage of students scoring at level 3 or 4 in ELA and math assessments, with most scores at or above the county average. With the implementation of the Common Core standards, the district has renewed its focus on moving more students toward mastery, with the goal of moving the district to the top third of the county.
To view a copy of the presentation, which includes a list of resources for parents, visit www.lbeach.org.