Photo Gallery: First day of school at Mark Keppel Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School in Glendale

Parents and students of Toll Middle School, Mark Keppel Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School, and Hoover High School, cross Virginia Avenue in Glendale on the first day of school on Monday, August 11, 2014. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / August 11, 2014)

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About 26,000 students returned to Glendale public schools on Monday with the start of the new school year.

Among them were Daniel and Clarissa Victor, siblings who were entering the fifth and fourth grades, respectively, at Horace Mann Elementary, where their parents also attended school.

“We’re pretty excited now that they’re going into a new grade,” said their father, Carlos Victor, who met his wife, Carolina, when the two entered the sixth grade at Roosevelt Middle School. “There are new things they’re going to be learning, and they’re really excited, too.”

PHOTOS: First day for GUSD students

 

Over the summer, Horace Mann Principal Rosa Alonso made phone calls to the school’s roughly 700 students to encourage them to read over the break.

 

“This year, we’re really going to focus on being champions…and never giving up and giving it our all,” she said.

 

Alonso was one of many Glendale educators who met with teachers over the summer to prepare for the district’s ongoing switch to new math and language-arts standards this year, known as the Common Core State Standards.

 

In June, a group of teachers from across Glendale Unified spent 15 days writing new curriculum tied to the standards that many have lauded as being more thorough and engaging because students learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

 

Earlier this month, educators who spent those earlier summer days writing the new curriculum began training their fellow teachers. They will spend the rest of this year developing curriculum tied to subjects such as English, math, history, science and foreign languages.

 

“They’re learning from their colleagues and they’re developing their skills through collegial conversations,” said Janet Buhl, assistant director of professional development for Glendale Unified. “What comes next is just continuing... to develop modules.”

 

When students take computerized state exams in April, their scores will count for the first time since California made the shift to the new curriculum, and it will give the 45 states that have also adopted the standards an apples-to-apples comparison of students’ academic strengths.

 

Looking at funding, Glendale school officials expect to receive $180.7 million in state dollars for 2014-15, up from $164.6 million last fiscal year.

 

The revenue boost comes with the state’s new funding method, which allots money to school districts in varying amounts depending on how many English learners, low-income or foster-care students they serve.

 

In Glendale, 57% of the district’s students this year are either English learners, in foster care or from low-income families, which made the district eligible for additional funds from the state to address the achievement gap among subgroups.