June 13, 2011
Utah teachers prepare for new academic standards
(Lisa Schencker, Salt Lake Tribune) –More than 5,000 Utah teachers will go back to class this summer — to learn how to teach to new state academic standards that, in some cases, will go into effect starting in the fall.
Over the next six weeks, teachers will attend four-day training sessions across the state to learn how to teach to new Utah Common Core State Standards. The standards, which so far have been adopted by 44 states and U.S. territories, will change what students are expected to learn in each grade in math and language arts.
The standards will be phased in over the course of a few years in grades K-12, with full implementation in 2014-15. As the first part of the phase-in, sixth and ninth-graders will take classes starting this fall modeled on Common Core math standards. Most ninth-graders, who might normally take Algebra, will take a new course in the fall called Secondary Mathematics 1, or an honors version of that course, which will include concepts in algebra, geometry, statistics, and pre-calculus, said Brenda Hales, state associate superintendent.
Press conference video from the Higher Ed Utah Facebook page:
Until now, each state developed its own standards, making comparisons difficult and causing problems for students who move between states. But the new Common Core will establish minimum standards for all states that adopt it. The idea behind the states-led initiative is to better prepare students for college and careers and to compete globally.
State Superintendent Larry Shumway said Monday — the first day of training sessions in Moab and Vernal — that the new standards will increase rigor in math and language arts.
And Lt. Gov. Greg Bell thanked lawmakers at a news conference Monday for helping to fund the training this summer and next with $2 million. Lawmakers also put $1 million toward helping change state assessments to reflect the new standards, and the State Office of Education also contributed about $1 million toward the training, using money saved from cutting back on previous teacher trainings, said Hales.
It will be up to districts to decide whether to pay teachers for attending the sessions, Hales said. Many teachers were chosen by their districts to attend, and others volunteered, she said.
Bell said the money and training will “go a long way” toward a goal of the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission and Utah’s business community to have 66 percent of Utah adults earning postsecondary degrees or certificates by 2020 in order to meet future workforce needs.
Higher Education Commissioner William Sederburg said he expects the new standards will help more students graduate from college. He said now about half of Utah’s public college and university students must take remedial math or English classes when they get to college.
“To have clarity in standards in math and English will be so helpful for us in reducing those [remediation] rates,” Sederburg said. He said he expects they’ll help “speed students through the higher ed process.”
To read the rest of this article in the Salt Lake Tribune, click here.Posted by: psilberman