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Common Core

What does Common Core mean for HART students?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) outline what students should know and what they should be able to do in reading and mathematics from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Common Core promotes the knowledge and skills necessary for competitive colleges and careers, is benchmarked to the standards of the world's top-performing countries and marks the first time that states have shared a common set of expectations for the nation's students.

Embedded within the Common Core is an expectation that students demonstrate the capacities of literate individuals so that instruction focuses less on moving students through superficial content, and more on building knowledge and deepening conceptual understanding

What are the Benefits of the Common Core State Standards?

  1. The foundation for success in the 21st century will be the ability to think critically, solve problems creatively, and to communicate and collaborate effectively. CCSS will provide opportunities for students to acquire and perfect these "21st century skills" so they can be prepared to succeed in higher education and compete in the global economy.
  2. CCSS will encourage and facilitate the integration of technology into the classroom, both as a resource to support student learning and as a means of leveling the playing field by offering all students access to the world of information.
  3. CCSS will replace exclusively multiple-choice assessments with more project-oriented and critical-thinking assessments that require students to use the knowledge they have acquired to demonstrate their learning.
  4. CCSS defines conceptually rich standards aligned across states and on par with the high standards of nations whose students have had the greatest educational success. The new standards place more emphasis on deep understanding and real-world application.
  5. CCSS focuses a coordinated, multi-state effort on preparing students for success in college and career pursuits while giving local schools and classroom teachers more support for designing strategies that will empower their students' learning

Transitioning to the Core

Full implementation of Common Core State Standards systems will occur over several years and in the context of a continuous learning process. The William S. Hart Union High School District has a three-phase plan over a four-year period to transition to the Common Core State Standards.

2012-2013, 2013-2014 - The Awareness Phase
The Awareness phase represents an introduction to the CCSS, the initial planning of systems implementation, and the establishment of collaborations to include awareness-building among all stakeholders - administrators, teachers, students and parents about the instructional shifts within the new standards. Teachers have "unpacked the standards" in the areas of math and English Language Arts and have been introduced to The Next Generation Science Standards. . ELA and math content team leaders at all sites have been piloting the new standards and implementing teaching strategies and performance tasks which support the standards and include the use of technology in instruction and assessment.

2013-2014, 2014-2015 - The Transition Phase
The Transition phase is the concentration on building foundational resources, the establishment of new professional learning opportunities and the expansion of collaborations between all stakeholders. ELA and math content teams are in the process of developing pacing guides and designing rigorous curricular units for the 2014-2015 school year and beyond. Professional Development Coaches are engaged in a deep examination of the new Common Core Anchor Standards for Literacy in preparation for supporting all teachers as they teach literacy across the curriculum. These Common Core Anchor standards delineate reading, writing, listening and speaking skills students utilize across curriculum at all grade levels. Coaches will provide professional development around these key literacy standards as well as strengthen and support core instruction of literacy practices. Students will be expected to become more fluent in their comprehension of information texts, with an increase in the amount reading and writing in all content areas. There will also be a shift in the use of technology in the classroom as students prepare to take the "on-line" assessment currently being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

2014-2015, 2015-2016 - The Implementation Phase
In the implementation phase, teachers and administrators will continue to focus on strengthening core instructional practices, expanding professional learning support and fully aligning curriculum with the standards. Teachers will begin the additional implementation of new content standards in the areas of science and social studies. Assessments will change to Common Core performance tasks that will require more informational reading and writing, critical thinking and use of technology. This transition will fully prepare students for the 21st Century!

Myths and Facts about the Common Core State Standards

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted and are preparing to fully implement the Common Core State Standards. These states will also administer the new standards aligned tests in the 2014-15 school year. Unfortunately, rumors and myths about the CCSS continue to generate confusion among educators, policymakers, and the public. The information below is provided to assist you with your understanding of the facts about the Common Core State Standards.

MYTH: The Common Core standards were developed by the federal government.

FACT: States developed the standards. The nation's governors and state education commissioners spearheaded Common Core development to provide clear and consistent understanding of the reading and math knowledge and skills that students need to be ready for lifelong learning and career success. Working through their representative organizations - the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) - state leaders collaborated with educators, subject matter experts, and researchers to write and review the standards. The federal government was not involved with the development of the CCSS.

MYTH: The federal government required states to adopt the standards.

FACT: The federal government did not require states to adopt the standards. In fact, four states (Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia) have chosen not to adopt the standards in either subject, and Minnesota has adopted the English language arts standards but not the math standards. However, the federal government's Race to the Top grant competition incentivized states to adopt college and career readiness standards, such as the CCSS, by providing state applicants with additional points for doing so. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education required states to adopt either the Common Core standards or another set of reading and math college- and career-ready standards approved by its network of higher education institutions.

MYTH: The Common Core standards include all core academic subjects.

FACT: The Common Core includes only mathematics and English language arts standards. The standards do, however, connect with student learning in other subjects by emphasizing literacy, academic vocabulary, problem solving, and mathematical reasoning across the curriculum, including history and science. Separate efforts to create model standards for science, social studies, and the arts are under way.

MYTH: The Common Core standards will fully prepare students for college and their careers.

FACT: Students need more than reading and math proficiency to be fully ready for college and their careers. To be sure, the CCSS - which are often described as college- and career-readiness standards - are an important first step in delineating the reading and math knowledge and skills that students will need to succeed after high school graduation. But to attain postsecondary success, students must have access to a comprehensive education that also includes instruction in the arts, civics and government, economics, foreign languages, geography, health education, history, physical education, and science.
Furthermore, a whole child approach to education is essential to realizing the promise of the standards. Only when students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged will they be able to meet our highest expectations and realize their fullest potential. Similarly, effective professional development that helps educators integrate the standards into the classroom and translate the standards into instructional strategies that meet their students' unique needs is crucial to the new standards' success.

MYTH: The Common Core standards are a national curriculum that dictates what and how every educator must teach.

FACT: The standards are not a curriculum. Standards are targets for what students should know and be able to do. Curricula are the instructional plans and strategies that educators use to help their students reach those expectations. The CCSS are a set of shared goals for the knowledge and skills students should possess in English language arts and mathematics to be proficient in those subjects. As such, districts and schools should use the standards as a basis for developing their own curricula by designing course content, choosing appropriate instructional strategies, developing learning activities, continuously gauging student understanding, and adjusting instruction accordingly.

MYTH: The CCSS will usurp local control of schools.

FACT: School boards remain responsible for setting their own visions and executing their own approaches for helping students reach the standards. In addition, districts and schools will continue to choose their own textbooks and instructional materials, provide teachers with tailored professional development, and design supports and interventions to help students reach proficiency.
School districts have always had to abide by state-approved education standards, of which the CCSS is one example. At the same time, districts had the flexibility and responsibility to implement the state-approved standards in a manner that reflected their local contexts and students' needs. The same is true with the Common Core standards. As has always been the case, educators and local communities will continue to make decisions about what happens in their districts, schools, and classrooms.

MYTH: Student test scores will plummet on the new Common Core assessments compared with scores on current state assessments.

FACT: The Common Core assessments that are under development are new tests based on new standards, which means that they will set a brand new benchmark for student performance. As such, it is simply not valid to compare scores on the new tests with scores on previous state assessments.
To measure student understanding of the Common Core standards, CA is participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). In addition to setting those new performance benchmarks, the new assessment system will differ markedly from current state assessments in delivery, complexity, and timing. Assessments are computer-based and will feature more varied and sophisticated questions - including performance-based items - that are designed to evaluate students' problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

MYTH: States, districts, and schools are spending excessive resources on Common Core implementation.

FACT: Although transitioning to the new standards will initially cost states additional money, the collaborative nature of the Common Core provides states with the opportunity to share resources, assessments, and educator professional development, resulting in economies of scale never before possible.
Also of note is that the costs associated with CCSS implementation - updating instructional materials, providing professional development for educators, and improving assessments - are ongoing investments for states, districts, and schools and would be requisite expenses for any new standards a state chooses to adopt.

MYTH: Implementing the new standards involves analyzing and reporting information about individual students and puts students' privacy at risk.

FACT: Common Core participation does not require student-level data sharing, analysis, or reporting. Each state decides how to assess its students on the standards and how to use the results of those assessments. Smarter Balanced will collect basic demographic data on students so that states have information on subgroup performance for accountability purposes, but they will not report assessment or demographic information at the individual student level. States will make their own decisions about whether to further analyze or share the assessment data as a way to inform, improve, and personalize instruction.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Common Core

Q: Will the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) get rid of Shakespeare?

A: The English language arts (ELA) standards state explicitly that a substantial amount of reading students do should be nonfiction-50 percent in elementary school and 70 percent in high school. This represents a significant shift from most school practices; research in primary grades, for example, has shown that children in early grades read almost no nonfiction. Yet the reading students will do after high school will be mostly nonfiction, including technical manuals, historical documents, and scientific journals. This requirement has led some commenters to express concern that the CCSS are driving literature from the curriculum. However, the standards document makes clear that the reading requirement is spread across all courses. Students will read nonfiction in history, science, and mathematics classes, and will continue to read literature in ELA courses. The CCSS also do not include a required fiction or nonfiction reading list, but do include a list of exemplary texts to show texts of appropriate complexity for each grade level. That list features many classic works of literature-including those written by Shakespeare.

Q: Why are the Common Core State Standards for just English language arts and math?

A: English language arts and math were the subjects chosen for the Common Core State Standards because they are areas upon which students build skill sets which are used in other subjects. They are also the subjects most frequently assessed for accountability purposes.

Q. Are there standards for science, social studies and other content areas?

A: No. At this time, the CCSS do not address content areas other than reading/language arts and mathematics; however, they do include standards related to content area reading in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects for Grades 6-12.

Q: What does this work mean for students with disabilities and English language learners?

A: The Common Core State Standards give states the opportunity to share experiences and best practices, which can lead to an improved ability to serve young people with disabilities and English language learners. Additionally, the standards include information on application of the standards for these groups of students.

Q: Where can I learn more?

A: Parents can access the Common Core State Standards in their entirety on the CCSS website.. By reviewing the standards for their child's grade level, parents can be better equipped to provide support for their child's learning at home.

Parent Resources Online:

• Parent Resources from the California Department of Education - www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/ccssresourcesparents.asp

• Common Core Standards Initiative - www.corestandards.org 

• Common Core Works - www.commoncoreworks.org/domain/104
These detailed "Road Maps" will help parents understand the learning outcomes at each grade level.

• Council of the Great City Schools - www.cgcs.org/domain/72
Well-organized overview of all things related to Common Core.

• PTA - www.pta.org/parents/content.cfm?ItemNumber=2910
Choose your student's grade-level for detailed information

• The Cost of CCSS Implementation - www.edexcellence.net/publications/putting-a-price-tag-on-the-common-core.html
A new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute on the potential costs of implementing CCSS. Includes an informative video.

• Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Assessments - http://www.smarterbalanced.org/assessments/ 
This link will provide detailed information about Smarter Balanced and its assessments.

• Smarter Balanced Practice Test for Students Grades 3 - 8, 11
Sign in as a guest at: https://sbacpt.tds.airast.org/student 

• Video: Common Core State Standards: A New Foundation for Student Success -  www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IGD9oLofks 

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For more information, please contact our Director of Professional Development and Special Programs, Jan Daisher at [email protected]