Schoolkids here will be bringing home updated report cards as part of the switch to Common Core standards. Elementary report cards will keep the 1-5 grading system that Turlock already uses, but parents will get more detailed information on reading and writing progress.
Turlock Unified School District board members got an overview of the new cards, as well as a half-million-dollar grant awarded to its adult school, technology upgrades and math program changes.
The old cards gave grades for reading and writing. Under the new system, there will be a single category of English language arts with five sub-skills: reading (literature and informational), language, writing, listening and speaking, and foundational skills. Those reflect what teachers will be grading under the new standards, Assistant Superintendent Dana Trevethan said.
“This organization is consistent with the architecture and intent of the Common Core standards, which is that all the standards are important and are meant to be taught and assessed in an integrated manner, and not in isolation,” Trevethan said Thursday.
Board members got details of a $482,510-per-year federal Workforce Investment Act grant awarded to Turlock Adult School. Principal Isaias Rumayor said the announcement was made in January, but the money is only now arriving.
The school serves about 1,400 students who are trying to earn a diploma or GED, or attain basic skills such as learning English, Rumayor said. “We are hoping to reach an additional 100 to 200 students. Additionally, the grant will allow us to expand, enhance and enrich the services currently provided to current students,” he said.
Also discussed at Tuesday’s board meeting was progress toward meeting community priorities for spending, laid out in the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan.
Music instruction in first grade through high school never stopped in Turlock, and in the plan it has been identified as a high community priority. This year, a foundational music program for second- and third-graders using Orff instrumentation is being added at all schools, Trevethan said.
A math instructional coach is being hired to beef up knowledge of numbers in elementary grades. High school math teachers are working on the biggest change brought by the switch to Common Core – integrated math courses for upper grades.
Rather than learning algebra, geometry and trigonometry as separate, unrelated courses, Common Core integrated math has students solve increasingly complex problems using all the math strategies they know. The change helps with real-world problems, which typically take a mix of skills to work out, and keeps algebra and other skills fresh between years. That’s a plus for students taking SAT tests.
This year, the teachers will work out the outlines of integrated math I, II and III. The courses will be phased in, starting with math I in 2015-16 for incoming freshmen.
Over the next year, the district also will be replacing about 1,500 electronic devices 5 years and older, and those with the old Windows XP operating system, said Jason Brem, director of technology and data systems.
Elementary schools that do not have Wi-Fi capability will be getting essentially a hot spot, a wireless access point in one room with a mobile cart of laptops, Brem said Wednesday. The three schools that already have Wi-Fi will get a mobile cart of laptops that can move among classes as needed.
The district is moving cautiously with its device purchases, seeking teacher feedback on different laptops, tablets and combination devices. The go-slow approach, rather than a lump purchase, also plans for a steady flow of replacement purchases down the road, Brem told board members.