National Review Online reports that the Long Beach Unified School District is the most prepared large school system in the state, in terms of providing the technology needed for the latest academic standards known as the Common Core State Standards. National Review says a case study of the five top school districts in the state was conducted by State Budget Solutions, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit research group.
SBS found that of the five California districts, "the Long Beach Unified School District is the most prepared, primarily because it has accepted outside funding from foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. LBUSD has also opted to establish computer labs rather than give individual devices to students."
SBS said that Long Beach committed to providing all of its schools with wireless access, high bandwidth and updated computing devices for Common Core testing. To achieve greater wireless access and bandwidth, the district used funds from its Measure K school bond program, which raised $1.2 billion in property taxes to build and renovate schools. For computing devices, LBUSD chose not to buy tablets for individual students. Instead, the district invested $6 million in state technology funding to install 109 new computer labs, giving larger schools two or three labs.
LBUSD Director of Research Christopher Lund told researchers, "Basically, Long Beach Unified decided to go with a pretty conservative approach with the testing. We chose to go with the lab setting because it was a little safer, more secure lab network."
In addition to the labs, one Long Beach high school and three middle schools are receiving tablet computers to experiment and see what platform works best.
"We've been given a gift," LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser stated in the report, "and we owe it to taxpayers to spend it efficiently and effectively."
The SBS report further states, “Recognized as one of the world's top 20 school systems and one of the top three in the U.S., LBUSD has been one of the most progressive school districts statewide in preparing for the Common Core. While the state's $16.4 million (for Common Core) has helped cover some costs, the district primarily funded the CCSS through private grants and funding requests that started before state money for Common Core flowed into the district. LBUSD has been a leader in transitioning to Common Core, and it has been working on implementing the new standards during these past four years.”
The Common Core standards, adopted by 45 states, were developed by teachers, parents, school administrators and other experts across the nation to establish a set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade. The standards are designed to make certain that students graduating from high school are prepared for college and careers.
Other school districts included in the report were Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, and Elk Grove.