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Statewide Support for Common Core Grows in California

  • Oakland, Calif. – More than 300 diverse organizations have signed on in support of the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced assessments, according to Children Now, a nonprofit focused on improving children’s health and education policy in California.

Children Now coordinated the statement to show that California will stay on track to implement the English language arts and mathematics standards and new, correlated assessments that will help students prepare for higher education and careers.  In a short time, the organization was able to gather signatures from leading education, business, civil rights, parent, community, and ethnic-based groups across the state that range from the California Parent Teacher Association to the United Way and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

According to Ted Lempert, the organization’s president, the diversity of sign-ons reflects just how much support there is for the standards and assessments statewide, even amid recent opposition, which has ranged from bills that have failed to pass in the legislature to negative media.

This backing is especially important, he said, as districts throughout the state are wrapping up a practice run of the new Smarter Balanced assessments. While the tests won’t count this year, they provide teachers and students the opportunity to try out the new tests as well as insight into any needs or changes that should be made before next school year.

“While the testing has highlighted some anticipated challenges, we cannot back down and let our students lose out an opportunity that is long overdue and much needed,” Lempert said.  “Principals and teachers should know they have the support of their communities as they continue in this transition process to update our standards.”

Though California adopted the standards in 2010, the implementation process, as typical with systemic changes, has taken time. While the transition has already involved hard work on the part of education leaders and teachers, more time, effort, and resources will be needed over the coming months and years. Children Now is working to build greater understanding of how Common Core is changing California schools and encourage further patience on the part of stakeholders throughout the transition period.

Under Common Core, students are now required to critically read and analyze text in English language arts, while building comprehension and writing skills they also apply to other subjects. In math, students are pushed to develop a foundational knowledge tied to core concepts that build year to year, discipline to discipline. The new assessments will make sure kids are progressing towards college and career readiness markers by more accurately measuring what students know and don’t know.

“Under Common Core, California schools are making an essential step forward from our standards and assessment system of the past, which did not adequately prepare our students for the future,” Lempert said. “The new standards will lead to greater educational equity state-to-state, student-to-student, ensuring that all students have a higher bar set for achievement that leads to improved life outcomes and overall success.”

Children Now is also continuing to highlight what needs still remain to improve the transition process in districts, including additional resources from the state.

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