Educational standardization programs to promote critical thinking among students and better job and college readiness is already in the classrooms of kindergarten, first- and second-grade students in Lake Havasu City.
During the Lake Havasu Unified School District Governing Board’s general meeting Tuesday, Emmett Brown, of the West Central Regional Service Center, presented the Board an overview about Arizona Common Core Standards.
The regional service includes Arizona counties of Mohave, La Paz, Yavapai and Yuma. The Common Core program was first introduced in 2010 and is a national standardization program to align curricula for students from school to school, and state to state.
Common Core values focus on preparing students for jobs and transforming what students learn and how they are taught. To accomplish that goal, Common Core increases educator effectiveness, and student learning. The concept spans students in grades K-12.
“Today’s work place is different than it was even a few years ago,” Brown said. “Now, most jobs are more demanding and teachers are faced with preparing students for a world of possibility in the job market. Students need to learn to effectively communicate, collaborate, and adapt to situations,” Brown said.
“Arizona Common Core Standards ensure all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce,” Brown said.
Common Core is being used in 48 states and D.C. In Arizona, the program is honing in on English and mathematics.
To gauge success of the program, online standardized testing that coincides with Common Core is in the works and set for 2014.
In Common Core, school districts will be graded, too. For example, a school district’s score is based on how students score (50 percent); growth from the previous year’s students’ score (25 percent) and growth in lowest performing students. An A to F letter grade is awarded.
“We take this initiative very seriously,” said LHUSD superintendent Gail Malay. The Common Core strategy is now in the school district’s local K-2 classrooms. And it will be in classrooms of grades 3 through 12 next year, she said.
The Board unanimously voted to approve policy changes of the school district’s procurement credit cards, bidding and purchasing procedures, and food services.
According to school district documents, the school district superintendent would be responsible for all aspects of the credit card use. Only designated employees would be allowed to use the credit cards as an alternative payment method when making either traditional or emergency payments.
Bidding and purchasing policies would allow the superintendent to authorize any purchases of $25,000 or less. Purchases between $25,000 and $50,000 would need three vendor bids on file. No project would exceed $1 million.
Food services would comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, to provide the same lunches to students whether they are cost-free or not.
The Board unanimously voted to approve the $83,000 grant-funded purchase of Reading Horizons Discovery software would align the school district’s elementary students with existing reading programs.
During discussion, it was determined the purchase spans five years and includes free upgrades of existing software. The reading program aligns with Common Core.
In separate unanimous votes, the Board approved travel for a handful of clubs at Lake Havasu High School.
The LHHS Key Club is set to travel to El Paso, Texas, April 12-14, 2013 for the organization’s Southwest District Convention. At the function, students attend workshops, vote to amend district bylaws, and elect district officers. No funding is required of the school district.
The LHHS Key Club also is set to travel to Washington, D.C., July 1-8, 2013, for the organization’s International Convention. At the function, students attend workshops, vote to amend international bylaws, and elect international district officers. No funding is required of the school district.
The LHHS Educational Tour Group is set to travel abroad to countries of Portugal, Spain, Morocco, and the French Riviera, May 29 to June 12, 2013. Each traveler’s expenses are $4,374, which is funded through the group’s account, parent association fund, and parents’ personal funds.
The LHHS DECA group is set to attend the Western Regional Leadership Conference, scheduled Nov. 15-18, 2012, in Seattle, Wash. Each traveler’s expenses are $850.52, which is funded by the club’s activity funds, CTE funds, DECA tax credits and students’ personal funds.
The Board unanimously approved the school district’s Performance Pay Site-based goals for 2012-2013. The sites are the district’s separate schools.
Three of the school district’s elementary schools chose memorization goal in the area of math. Three other elementary schools chose vocabulary. The schools’ goal is that 100 percent of students are reading on level or above.
The middle school and high school also set goals in vocabulary.
Overall, the district is focusing on increased rigor, which means quality of thinking, high expectations, real-world connections, depth and content complexity.
The program is made up of pretesting, analysis of test scores, and parent communication. Progress is tracked. Staff is awarded money based on goal attainment.
For example, 88 percent of LHHS students must show improvement on academic vocabulary tests; teachers must complete at least two hours of voluntary professional development training; and teachers must make contact with students’ parents or guardians to promote academic success, and log those contacts.
Goals are similar at Thunderbolt Middle School, but 85 percent of students are required to show improvement before the monetary bonuses kick in.
The Board unanimously approved a $90,000 grant-funded purchase of Scholastic Expert 21, which is a comprehensive English language arts curriculum. The curriculum is geared toward youth and content is based on things they are interested, which makes them more likely to want to write about it, educators said during discussions.
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