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Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

by Kathleen Stinson - Oct. 2, 2012 08:05 AM
Special for The Republic |

Implementation will affect district's budget

Queen Creek Unified School District administrators say implementing the new Common Core curriculum standards will be a challenge, given the level of funding they have to work with.

Implementing the new Common Core curriculum standards will significantly affect the district's budget for the 2012-13 academic school year, said Tom Lindsey, superintendent of QCUSD.

Common Core is a new set of standards adopted by Arizona and 47 other states and territories to "provide a consistent set of English Language Arts and mathematics expectations that prepare all students for college and career options," according to the state Department of Education website.

The standards are designed to make sure "students remain competitive in the global market of the 21st Century."

"It's going to have a big impact on our budget because we have to prepare teachers with the appropriate training and resources to implement Common Core," Lindsey said.

The district has $200,000 in its soft capital budget for textbooks, library materials and software to adapt to the new standards for grades K-12, Lindsey said.

The district has an additional $22,781 for the next three years in Race to the Top federal funds and $80,000 in Title II for the 2012-13 school year.

The Race to the Top Fund provides grants to stimulate innovation in education.

Linda Carr, director of curriculum and staff development for QCUSD, said the money district officials have to implement the Common Core curriculum is "absolutely not enough" but that they are still confident they will succeed.

"We have to take what we have and figure out how to apply it and how we're going to use it to implement Common Core," she said. "We have to prioritize a lot of different areas so we can do the best we can with the funds."

Common Core has fewer but deeper standards, she said. Students will be taught to apply the curriculum in their everyday life and to future job performance.

"Common Core is a whole different pedagogy, a different way of teaching, which includes higher-level strategies and much more rigor," Carr said.

Lindsey said that the new standards involve "adopting a new teacher-evaluation system and providing the technology for the new student-assessment program."

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, is expected to replace the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) in 2014-15.

PARCC is technology-based, and the district is required to have enough computers so students can take the test online, Lindsey said.

Carr said the district is using bond money that taxpayers approved in 2010 to equip students and classrooms with student-response devices and cameras, for example, in preparation for the new curriculum standards.

Last year, the district implemented Common Core in kindergarten, and this year the district is required to start it in first and second grades, she said. Next year, the district is required to implement it at all grade levels.

Queen Creek's Curriculum and Staff Development Department has one director, which is a three-day-a-week position, one full-time administrative assistant and one teacher assigned half of the time to curriculum and half to testing and data management.

"The two biggest challenges we face are funding and time," Carr said. "The teachers need time to meet. Time is a key issue for teachers and district-office staff, too," she said. "The most positive (aspect) of Common Core is educators are talking to each other at all levels (federal, state, local) and collaborating and sharing information about kids and how they learn."

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