Judy Burton is the President and CEO of the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a charter management organization that oversees many independent charter schools in southern California. The Alliance College-Ready Public Schools have a total student body population of around 10,000 students. Judy Burton took the time to share the effect the implementation of the Common Core State Standards are having on her organization’s schools and students.
Burton’s school began the implementation of the CCSS last year. They are now fully transitioned in all twenty-six of their schools. She says the shift has been huge due to how the curriculum is taught, but that the “K-12 curriculum and instructional strategies will be better aligned to what is expected of students to be college-ready.”
Their implementation approach began by examining what the standards are and how instruction would need to change to support the student’s success with the standards. They collaborated with Pearson; a company that helped develop and write the CCSS. Their approach has been digital.
Burton says, “We chose this approach so students would be well ready for online state assessments at the end of the year. Pearson Common Core courses are all on the iPad right now and all of the content – the curriculum, the units, and the lessons – are on the individual students’ iPad. We train our teachers on how to provide the instruction. Our students already know how to use the iPad and have been primarily been using laptops before this year. But every Alliance student, and that is around 10,000 students, has an individual iPad as do the teachers, and it’s a major part of our implementation of Common Core this year.”
Burton shared that she felt the smoothest transition for her Charter Management Organization would come through involving the teachers in the implementation of common core. They have focused on understanding what the curriculum is, and training classroom teachers directly through designing lesson plans and implementing them into the classroom. Another step that has helped with the implementation of common core is providing direct support through content area specialists in Math and English. These instructional leaders were brought on board last year and were able to provide feedback on professional development and classroom implementation.
In a recent interview with an education authority and writer for About.com for Education, Derrick Meador said that the level of parental involvement would need to increase in order for students to be successful with the Common Core Standards and that communication plays a big role in increasing parental involvement. Burton agreed with this saying, “Parents need to understand the shift in things like instruction is no longer about teaching students to find the right answers. The level of rigor is greater as we transition into the new curriculum, both in terms of our teacher awareness and students and a family becoming accustomed to what is expected.”
Burton’s schools use a variety of communication methods to help parents understand what is going on in their school. One method is that every school offers parent education courses that are directed by a parent liaison. These courses train and engage parents in understanding what their child is learning and doing at school. The focus is to help parents understand what is needed to prepare their child for graduation and success in college. Their school also offers a robust website, which allows them to inform the community of what they are doing. Each of the twenty-six charter schools offers their own website for communication purposes.
Burton shared her closing thoughts on common core by encouraging those who are skeptical to give it time to be implemented, “I think it is the right move for the country to take and I think that we should give ourselves the necessary time to get it implemented. That will take two to three years until we can actually use results for accountability in school and teacher performance, but it is definitely the right direction to take.”
For more information on the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, make sure to check out their website: http://www.laalliance.org/.
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