Common Core

The Common Core section of the NS Curriculum Website was developed to give all stakeholders information, tools and resources about the Common Core State Standards. Hover over the Common Core Tab and click on:

Brief Overview and Links
Common Core Standards Quick Reference
Video Resources
ELA CCSS Resources
Math CCSS Resources
Pulling It All Together- ELA
Pulling It All Together- Math
Links and Resources

 

When choosing tools and resources gathered from websites across the country, I focused (and tried to balance)  resources that fit into these four categories.

 

  1. General Information: Background, philosophy and construction of the standards
  2. Resources to Study the Standards: Unpacking the standards, information about the shifts in instruction
  3. Resources for Teaching: Focusing on instructional strategies (videos, lesson plans)
  4. Standards in Action: Examples of student work products, assessments

 

 

For what it is worth... here are some of my thoughts on the Common Core State Standards:

 

The most talked about, tweeted about, and even ‘facebooked’ topic in public education today is standards, more specifically, the Common Core State Standards that were unveiled and adopted by forty plus states. The Common Core State Standards are a series of expectations grouped by grade level that identifies what students should know and be able to do at the end of each year of their K-12 education. The shift to common standards is epic and will change the face of public education.

The precipitating factors that caused the need to build a set of common standards was the wide array of grade level standards and expectations throughout the country. It was the NCLB Act of 2001 (now referred to as ESSA) that ultimately brought this issue to light. NCLB was designed to hold states, districts, and schools accountable for student achievement. A noble idea, which, although flawed did certainly set the foundation for common, rigorous and sequential standards. With the implementation of NCLB, each year, school districts would be evaluated and given an Adequately Yearly Progress determination. In theory, this accountability process would ‘push’ districts and states to improve student achievement and performance. However, there were unintended consequences to this process. Since there were sanctions given to low performing and low improvement schools it has been suggested that some states lowed the ‘performance’ bar, which led to a better determination. Similarly, the states with the most rigorous standards for student performance were penalized in a way; since their standards were holding students to a ‘high bar’ those states did not fare as well in regards to the accountability determinations. For example, Massachusetts is known throughout the country as a state that has some of the most rigorous standards for student achievement. Various data collected including NEAP assessment data, SAT scores and other standardized assessments shows that Massachusetts’s students routinely outperform their peers in other states. However, states that lowered the bar received a higher NCLB determination and less sanctions. Simply put a Massachusetts third grader who scored below the standard on the state assessment, could quite possibly move to another state and achieve ‘above the standard’ due to the low bar set.

This discrepancy did not go unnoticed. Educators from across the country routinely debated performance levels set by individual states and the need for common, rigorous, sequential standards became a clear necessity.
Many state standards have been described, as “a mile wide and an inch deep” which translates to, our kids are becoming “jack of all trades and master of none.” The Common Core Standards have addressed this and have a clear focus on fewer standards with an emphasis on mastery. The standards have also been developed to build on prior knowledge and extend and refine that knowledge in each sequential grade level. The Common Core State Standards are also more specific giving the individual teacher a clear direction for instructional planning.

As there were unintended consequences with NCLB, it is quite possible there will also be unintended consequences of implementing common standards across the country. Perhaps these consequences will be positive. The common standards will most certainly encourage collaboration among states. Collaboration, discussion, reflection is the foundation to building professional learning communities. Educators across the country will be able to form communities of learning now that the standards are common.

As a district we have much work ahead of us, not only to study the standards and expectations but we will also have to write an aligned K-12 curriculum for Reading, Writing and Mathematics. This will include units of study, scope and sequence,assessments and benchmarks. Developing new curriculum is an extensive and time consuming process. However, when it is all 'said and done' I am confident that our students will benefit from this enoumous initiative for many years to come.

-Clare