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1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]


Tom Torlakson

Tom Torlakson

Schools across the state, including those in the Santa Clarita Valley, will begin implementing Common Core State Standards this school year with the help of $622 million in new state funding, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Tuesday.

California initially adopted the Common Core in August 2010, but the state was prevented from funding the transition due to the recession.

“We’re challenging every part of our education system to remodel itself, and, step by step, give students the tools to achieve their dreams,” Torlakson said. “And after years of cuts and turmoil, we’re finally able to start making the investments necessary to turn those dreams into a reality.”

The Common Core State Standards, which were designed by teachers, parents, and education experts, have been adopted by 45 states since 2010. Having the same standards helps all students get a good education, even if they change schools or move to a different state, according to the California Department of Education website.

School districts can use their share of the funds as they choose to train teachers, buy new materials and purchase technology to help schools adapt to the new standards, which are designed to provide all students with the deeper learning, critical thinking, and other skills they need to prepare for college and a career.

School districts across the Santa Clarita Valley have started looking at how best to use the funds allocated to them and how implementing the Common Core Standards will affect their education methods in years to come.

Marc Winger, Newhall School District superintendent said that of the nearly $1.4 million his district will receive, most will go toward teacher training.

“We think that’s where we get our best results,” Winger said. “(We) pride ourselves on highly-trained teacher and principals.”

The William S. Hart Union High School District is also preparing for the change in standards.

“The Hart School District is anxious to implement the new common core state standards,” said Hart spokeswoman Gail Pinsker. “Our teachers and enthusiastic… This is revolutionary in education in California, and we’re excited to be on the forefront of this new era.”

Pinsker said that the Hart District already has Common Core pilot programs in each of its schools.

“We are cautiously optimistic about the funds that  have been preliminarily allocated,” she said. “…We have not been able to analyze our entitlements and what they’ll be directed towards.”

A district-by-district list of funding is available from the California Department of Education.

The funds represent the first half of $1.25 billion allocated for Common Core implementation, which was included in the state budget by Governor Brown and the legislature at Torlakson’s urging. The second half of the funding will be released in October. The total amounts to $200 per student.

“As a teacher, I’m heartened that our Governor and our lawmakers—amid so many competing needs for resources—made our schools and the children they serve a priority,” Torlakson said. “At the Department of Education, we worked hard to honor that commitment by getting these funds to school districts as quickly as possible. Welcome back to school, California—let’s show the world what we can do.”

The Department of Education has also developed a new tool for districts, the CCSS Systems Implementation Guide, which includes suggestions and resources for local implementation organized by the seven guiding strategies in the CCSS Systems Implementation Plan for California.

“The Guide takes the guesswork out of implementing a local plan, so teachers and schools can concentrate on their first priority: their students,” Torlakson said.

The guiding strategies address:

* High-quality professional development for educators

* CCSS-aligned instructional resources designed to meet the needs of all students

* CCSS-aligned assessment systems

* Working with families and the broader community to integrate Common Core into programs and activities beyond the regular school day

* Working with higher education and business communities

* Sharing ideas and resources as CCSS implementation moves forward

* Sharing information with all stakeholders

For more information on this and other Common Core resources available from the Department of Education, click here.

The California Department of Education is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

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