CUSD Community Meeting focuses on Common Core, Measure U
By Peter Dugré
A great change is underway for Carpinteria Unified School District. At the annual Community Meeting on Nov. 17, district administrators caught parents up to speed on the main principles of the newly implemented Common Core State Standards and what to expect now that Measure U, the $90 million school bond to improve facilities, passed on Nov. 4.
Measure U oversight
It could be several years before ground breaks on any Measure U projects, and according to Assistant Superintendent Cindy Abbott, the time between now and groundbreaking will be dedicated to careful planning. She emphasized that while flexibility on how to spend the $90 million was intentionally built into the ballot measure, the details are in the Facilities Master Plan, which was 18 months in the making and a product of extensive analysis of all school sites. “If anyone wants to know what we’re going to be doing, it’s all there in the Facilities Master Plan,” she said.
Another point of emphasis was in the formation of an Independent Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, a requirement of the education code meant to ensure monitoring of bond expenditures. Within the priority projects of replacing 63 portables with modular classrooms, modernizing electrical and plumbing and building modern science classrooms at the high school, the oversight committee will be able to ensure that bond monies are being efficiently allotted. “The whole process is about budget control,” commented Abbott of the bond.
The committee will be made up of at least seven community members who will be selected from a spectrum of parents, business leaders and seniors, as specified in the education code. Applications can be found at the CUSD office, 1400 Linden Ave.
Abbott cautioned that signs of progress may not be evident in the near future. “You might look around next summer and wonder what we’re doing. We will be planning. We will be designing,” she said.
Common Core launched
Superintendent Paul Cordeiro described the implementation of new Common Core State Standards this year as a work in progress that aims to challenge students more as part of the emerging effort to catch United States students up with the rest of the world.
In language arts classrooms, writing will be the top priority. Most often, students will be asked to read nonfiction texts and source them in writing. “Literature is not going away; it’s beautiful and teaches a lot of things, but nonfiction is on the rise, ” Cordeiro said.
Math classrooms are merging problem solving and mastery of how numbers work to teach the “math behind the math,” according to Cordeiro. “Math and solving problems used to live in different universes; now we’re trying them together,” he said.
At the high school level, a greater integration of concepts from algebra, geometry and statistics will be applied in order to build a foundation of number sense.
And the upheaval of the state standards system will be monitored by a new testing system, California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. Further details about Common Core and CASPP can be found at cusd.net under the “Parents” menu.
Local Control Accountability Plan
State standards changed and the Academic Performance Index, a measure of school districts based on standardized testing were discontinued in 2013, the year that CUSD scored an 809, its first time above the state-mandated proficiently threshold of 800.
New ways to hold districts responsible, known as Local Control Accountability Plans, have been implemented. In CUSD, that involves measuring student achievement for academics alongside student outcomes and items attached to emotional wellbeing at school like student involvement and school climate. CUSD’s LCAP was approved by the school board and Santa Barbara County Education Office before its implementation this year.
Starting in 2016, a combination of results on new state testing on Common Core Standards and other yet-to-be-decided factors will be used to generate new API scores. Administrators noted that CUSD had climbed above neighboring districts Santa Barbara, Ojai, Ventura and Lompoc before the former API system was discontinued.