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5,000 Teachers to Get Training Geared Toward State Standards

April 21, 1999|DUKE HELFAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seeking to improve reading and math instruction, Los Angeles County education officials this summer will begin training thousands of teachers from 14 counties in systematic phonics and other promising instructional methods.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education has teamed up with experts from Stanford University, the University of Oregon and elsewhere in a program to reach nearly 5,000 teachers from San Diego to Fresno over the next six summers.

The teachers will learn strategies for assessing their students' skills and using data and computer spreadsheets to track progress and shape classroom practices.

"The hope is to get more teachers aligning their instruction with the state language arts and math standards in ways that will improve student achievement," said James Lanich of the Los Angeles County education office. "We want teachers to base their decisions on data rather than on guesswork."

Training sessions for the "Teach the Teachers" project will focus on reading and math in the primary grades but will also cover subjects for secondary students. In particular, algebra will be emphasized because the state's new math standards call for the subject--traditionally taught in ninth grade--to instead be covered in eighth grade, Lanich said.

The training is slated to reach 865 teachers this summer.

About half of them will come from Los Angeles County. The sessions, on the grounds of a private boarding school in Ventura County, will also serve instructors from Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties, among other places.

The training is the result of a collaboration between the Los Angeles County education office, the two universities, the Thacher School in Ojai and the Vons/Pavilions grocery chain, which has committed $6.1 million to underwrite the first two years of the program.

In addition to the training sessions each summer, teachers will get access to an Internet Web site where they can download sample tests and lessons that are aligned with state standards.

Teachers will also periodically discuss their experiences with the fellow instructors and get coaching from experts through the Web site.

Each teacher who participates has agreed to introduce 10 others to the information, either in person or through the project Web site.

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