As many of you may already know, California is set to embark on a new era in public education. For more than a decade, the United States has trailed the international community in Math, Reading, and Science, producing a growing surplus of workers with limited skills and further hampering our nation's ability to compete on a global stage. In response, California has abandoned archaic Content Standards in favor of a new academic approach that demands more from our student and better prepares them for an ever-expanding 21st century economy. Common Core is part of a national movement to reform education in 39 states and represents a dramatic shift in philosophy, placing a greater emphasis on the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills students will need to succeed. Teachers will greatly benefit from these changes, which will not only align the curriculum to meet more rigid academic standards, but also implementation strategies that promote project-based and peer learning. Most importantly, Common Core offers the promise of greater accountability in the form of Smarter Balanced Assessments, which will accurately measure student achievement and progress made toward the attainment of knowledge and skills vital to the pursuit of a post-secondary education and/or lucrative career. John Muir Middle School, Manual Arts Senior High School, and West Adams Preparatory High School have been working for more than a year, informing students, parents, and community stakeholders to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible. Teachers and school faculty members also received professional development in key Common Core areas, including Kate Kinsella's Academic Vocabulary Toolkit, Dr. Spencer Kagan's Active Engagement Strategies, and College Preparatory Math. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education." Common Core is the first step to that realization.
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