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DOE unpacks new standards

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - In as early as School Year 2014-2015, Guam students could be on the same page as their national counterparts thanks to the Common Core State Standards - a national movement supported by 46 states and other territories that ensures all students graduate ready for college or a career.

Department of Education teachers are hitting the books to get familiar with the Common Core State Standards.

Adopted by the Guam Education Board last year and pushed by DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez as stated in his State of Island Education Address earlier this year, Voyager Learning consultant Michele Douglas says teachers are still getting acquainted with the new expectations, evident by this and last week's training sessions.

"And they've been spending the last year really getting themselves prepared and familiarized and so these documents they'll be able to use to actually plan lessons and look at how and what pieces of their instruction they need to change to be in alignment with the Common Core State Standards," she said.

Just like the name implies, the Common Core levels the playing ground.

"DOE prior was using their own standards just like any other state. California had its own adopted standards. Colorado has its adopted standards.  New York has its adopted standards. And so every state was working on that and every state had its own assessment. But what's unfortunate about that is that there's no common ground to say that if students are achieving at this level in New York what does that mean in California or in Guam or in any other location?," she said.

With the changing standards, conversations are underway on whether DOE should trash SAT-10 testing in coming years for another measure of student achievement that aligns with the Common Core.

Whereas the SAT-10 asks students to simply add or subtract using strict, traditional U.S. algorithms, the common core asks students to think outside the box.

She said, "When you go to common core, a lot of those assessments are going to look at what are multiple ways I might be able to work this problem? What would the picture representation of that look like? Things are very much scaffold for kids to build conceptually over time so that when they're exiting a grade level they have actually gotten to proficiency on a set amount of skills before they're moving on to the next grade level."

While still new to Guam, states who have fully implemented the Common Core are slated to be assessed next school year.

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