Parents invited to attend county presentation on new Common Core instructional standards

We haven’t talked much on the NewsFlash about the new Common Core State Standards, but they represent a major shift in education, and they’re the subject of an upcoming presentation from the Orange County Department of Education that will feature IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker as a panelist.

Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County’s superintendent of schools, is inviting parents, educators, business partners and community-based organizations to attend a symposium titled, “Transformational Change in Education” from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Radisson Hotel Newport Beach, located at 4545 MacArthur Blvd. in Newport Beach. Registration begins at 2:15 p.m.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is actually part of a national reform movement that’s been embraced by 45 states, including our own. The idea is to align instruction in English and math nationwide with a new curriculum that promotes critical thinking and problem-solving. California is set to implement its standards in 2013-14, and Irvine’s educators have been busy planning.

“In IUSD, we have always valued the importance of teaching our kids to think and recognized that memorizing and regurgitating facts is not going to prepare our students for their futures,” said Cassie Parham, Irvine Unified’s assistant superintendent of Education Services. “However, as we implement the Common Core Standards, we have an opportunity to intensify our focus.”

Parham said the new curriculum was specifically designed to teach students “to think critically and creatively, to articulate a position, to take intellectual risks, and to collaborate effectively.”

The keynote address for Thursday’s presentation will be given by David Coleman, president of the College Board and a key architect of the Common Core State Standards. Demarée Michelau, director of policy analysis at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, will also present, and there will be a panel discussion featuring Superintendent Walker and other educational and business leaders.

Meanwhile, IUSD is also planning its own Common Core information meetings for parents. They’ll be held this spring, with dates and times to be announced.