The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy. Building on the excellent foundation of standards states have laid, the Common Core State Standards are the first step in providing our students with a high-quality education.
Why common standards? - California has had high academic standards in place for every subject area since the late 1990's. This is how the state sets the goals for what each child should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. California decided to work with other states to make sure that as we raise our standards, we make sure our standards are comparable with every other state in the nation and any other country in the world. This way, when students take a test at the end of the year, we will know how California students are doing compared to their counterparts in a neighboring district and neighboring state. That's critical if we are going to move our education system forward. As a local school district, we still have local control. We can still add on to the standards if we want to, and we as a district will still choose the curriculum, we use to teach these standards in the classroom.
How were these standards adopted? - The state used a very transparent process, one that is used every time it approves new academic standards, including review and adoption by the California State Board of Education. The California Department of Education works with teachers, parents and others to review the content standards in each subject area when it is up for review and see if any changes should be made. If changes are made, these changes go before the State Board of Education for approval. The Common Core standards were adopted by the State Board in August 2010 and updated in January 2013.
What can I expect to see in the classroom? - Here is a look at how the standards will change in English Language Arts and Literacy:
First, students will read challenging texts in every class. The will continue to read classic literature, stories, and poems in English class, but they also will be challenged with studying and analyzing non-fiction texts in all subject areas as well. As a result, students will be prepared to read, analyze and write about all types of texts at a higher level, whether they are fiction or non-fiction, when they graduate from high school.
Second, your child will be asked to use evidence from the text when writing papers or making oral presentations. In all classes, the standards will require students to not only read the text but dig into it to support their arguments or research. As a result, students will be better prepared to support their arguments and decisions with evidence, not just opinion, whether they are in college or the workforce.
Third, you will see an increased focus on vocabulary across all grade levels. As a result, students will continue to learn new vocabulary words as they progress through school as well as the correct context in which to use them. This is more important than ever in the 21st Century as students live and work in the digital age and encounter new words and terms constantly.
Here is a look at how the standards will change in Mathematics:
First, students will work more deeply in fewer topics. In each grade level, your child's teacher will cover fewer concepts than in the past but go into much more depth on each concept. This makes sure every student gains a full understanding before moving on to the next concept. As a result, your child will gain a full and foundational understanding of mathematics before moving on to the next grade level.
Second, your child will understand why math works and be asked to talk about and prove their understanding. Students will no longer just memorize formulas but will learn why a particular formula exists. As a result, students will learn critical foundational concepts and problem-solving skills.
Third, your child will be asked to use math in real-world situations. Students will not just memorize formulas or methods but will learn strategies for solving problems they could encounter in life. As a result, students will gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills while in school that they can apply in postsecondary education and the workforce.
How will this affect my child's test scores? - These standards are new, and the expectations for the students are higher and more complex. As a result, it will take time for students to master these new standards. Students will first be measured against these new standards in the Spring of 2015. That year, we expect that the number of students performing at grade level proficiency may drop compared to what has been in years past. It may drop by one-third or more. This is what other states have seen. This isn't because our students woke up one day and weren't as smart as they were the day before. It is because we are holding them to a higher standard, to help ensure that they are college and career ready, and that's a good thing. We will be organizing our programs and monitoring student success in order to make sure we are providing the best instruction and support for every child in the school and district.
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Common Core Official Website
English Language Arts Common Core Standards
Math Common Core Standards
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