The theme for this school year at the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) is change. Not that change itself is anything new in California – No Child Left Behind and K-3 grade class size reduction are just two examples. But what I hear from experienced educators is that the changes occurring in public education right now are the most significant they’ve seen in decades.
I’m specifically referring to the Common Core State Standards and the Local Control Funding Formula.
This is the year Sonoma County’s school districts and the County Office of Education must fully implement the Common Core State Standards, a process that has been under way since 2010. Even though SCOE educates some of the county’s most challenging students in its court and community schools and special education programs, it will follow the same standards as school districts.
The Common Core State Standards describe what students in each grade should know and be able to do in math and language arts. Developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, with input from parents, teachers and educational experts, the standards are designed to ensure that every child graduates from high school “college and career ready.”
Besides implementing the standards in its own classrooms, SCOE has been assisting Sonoma County’s 40 school districts. SCOE’s Instructional Services Division has been providing training and support to teachers and administrators. The county superintendent and county board of education have also sponsored two workshops for school district board members about the new standards and new student assessment that is replacing the STAR test. (For information about the new test, called the Smarter Balanced Assessment, visit smarterbalanced.org.)