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Students in the Rancho Santa Fe School District will begin preparations for taking the new Common Core Standards tests, which will replace the STAR testing. File photo
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District preps for new standards

RANCHO SANTA FE — When the new Common Core Standards are implemented in the Rancho Santa Fe School District next year, it will signal a shift in education techniques throughout the country as well. 

Students will no longer be able to guess the right answer on a multiple choice test. There will be few 50/50 chances of choosing correctly on a “true or false” test.

Students will have to put into practice the critical thinking skills they will have been taught. And in California, STAR testing will be a thing of the past.

“Assessment measures in the state of California will also change to reflect the new standards and include performance tasks where students are asked to write and solve complex problems,” said Lindy Delaney, superintendent of schools.

“The standards themselves are rigorous and challenge students by testing them on higher level thinking skills.”

Under the new standards, state testing results will be available in about two weeks, instead of several months, but Cindy Schaub, assistant superintendent, said she has no idea by what criteria schools will be ranked in the future.

It is hoped by the National Governors Association, which initiated the standards, that students will be more equipped to compete in college and careers and will be well-prepared to step onto the world stage.

“I can remember the roots of this 20 years ago. Global competition is pushing us,” Schaub said. “This has been a long time coming.”

Perhaps the most significant change will be in mathematic learning and instruction, Schaub said. “There will be more focus on thinking and applying, not just following rules and procedures.”

Students will have to make sense of math problems and persevere in solving them, which will teach them how to reason abstractly and quantitatively, she said.

Rather than teaching “how to get the answer,” teachers will instead help students access concepts from a number of perspectives, she said.

An example of a test question for sixth-graders is: “Jamal is filling bags with sand. All of the bags are the same size. Each bag must weigh less than 50 pounds. One bag weighs 57 pounds and another sad bag weighs 41 pounds. Explain whether Jamal can pour sand from one bag into the other so that the weight of each bag is less than 50 pounds.”

In language classes, students will switch from nontext dependent answers to text-dependent. For example, after reading “Casey at the Bat,” a nontext-dependent question asks students to describe a time when they failed at something similar to when Casey struck out at bat. In a text-dependent question, students are asked, “What makes Casey’s experiences at bat humorous?”

What does all this mean to students at R. Roger Rowe?

Local students are already doing this type of work in language and math.

“In Rancho Santa Fe, students continue to think more deeply about content, interactions regarding complex text, and how they apply mathematical reason and problem-solving to real-life situations,” Delaney said. “The role of research, creativity and communication with digital media will also increase with the new standards.”

She said the hardest year for the school district will probably be next year when the staff is trying to prepare students for the last STAR test and teaching under the new standards.

To help parents better understand the new standards and how they can help their student, Schaub will offer several workshops for them which will be announced.

The Common Core Standards have been currently been adopted by 46 states. Only Alaska, Texas and Virginia have not gotten on board.