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International benchmarking refers to analyzing high-performing education systems and identifying ways to improve our own system based on those findings. One of the ways to analyze education systems is to compare international assessments, particularly the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Prior to the development of the Common Core State Standards, research revealed striking similarities among the standards in topperforming nations, along with stark differences between those world-class expectations and the standards adopted by most U.S. states. As a result, standards from top-performing countries were consulted during the development of the Common Core State Standards. The college- and career-ready standards appendix lists the evidence consulted.
What grade levels are included in the Common Core State Standards?
The English language arts and math standards are for grades K-12. Research from the early childhood and higher education communities also informed the development of the standards.
What does this work mean for students with disabilities and English language learners?
Frequently Asked Questions Page 3 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 for these groups of students.
Why are the Common Core State Standards only for English language arts and math?
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 that are used in other subjects. Students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas, so the standards specify the literacy skills and understandings required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines.
It is important to note that the literacy standards in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects for grades 6–12 are meant to supplement content standards in those areas, not replace them.
States determine how to incorporate these standards into their standards for those subjects or adopt them as content area literacy standards.
Are there plans to develop common standards in other areas in the future?
CCSSO and NGA are not leading the development of standards in other academic content areas. Below is information on efforts of other organizations to develop standards in other academic subjects.
Science: States have developed Next Generation Science Standards in a process managed by Achieve, with the help of the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. More information about this effort can be found here.
World languages: The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages published an alignment of the National Standards for Learning Languages with the ELA Common Core State Standards. More information about this effort can be found here.
Arts: The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards is leading the revision of the National Standards for Arts Education. More information about this effort can be found here.
Implementation and Future Work What do the Common Core State Standards mean for students?
Today’s students are preparing to enter a world in which colleges and businesses are demanding more than ever before. To ensure all students are prepared for success after graduation, the Common Core establishes a set of clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English language arts.
How do the Common Core State Standards impact teachers?
The standards impact teachers by:
Providing them with consistent goals and benchmarks to ensure students are progressing on a path for success in college, career, and life Providing them with consistent expectations for students who move into their districts and classrooms from other states Providing them the opportunity to collaborate with teachers across the country as they develop curricula, materials, and assessments linked to high-quality standards Helping colleges and professional development programs better prepare teachers Frequently Asked Questions Page 4 What supports are being provided to teachers to help them ensure students are prepared to reach the new goals established by the Common Core?
Decisions on how to implement the standards, including the right supports to put in place, are made at the state and local levels. As such, states and localities are taking different approaches to implementing the standards and providing their teachers with the supports they need to help students successfully reach the standards. To learn how states are supporting teachers and implementing their new standards, visit the “Standards in Your State” section for a map linking to the state-specific implementation page.
Do the standards tell teachers what to teach?
Teachers know best about what works in the classroom. That is why these standards establish what students need to learn, but do not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers decide how best to help students reach the standards.
Who will manage the Common Core State Standards in the future?
The Common Core State Standards are and will remain a state-led effort, and adoption of the standards and any potential revisions will continue to be a voluntary state decision. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers will continue to serve as the two leading organizations with ownership of the Common Core and will make decisions about the timing and substance of future revisions to the standards in consultation with the states.
Federal funds have never and will never be used to support the development or governance of the Common Core or any future revisions of the standards. Any future revisions will be made based on research and evidence. Governance of the standards will be independent of governance of related assessments.
Will common assessments be developed?
Two state-led consortia, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced), are currently working to develop assessments that aim to provide meaningful feedback to ensure that students are progressing toward attaining the necessary skills to succeed in college, career, and life. These assessments are expected to be available in the 2014-2015 school year. Most states have chosen to participate in one of the two consortia. For more information, visit the website of your state’s assessment consortium.
Two additional consortia, working through the National Center and State Collaborative Partnership and the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternative Assessment System Consortium, are developing a new generation of assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
Will CCSSO and the NGA Center be creating common instructional materials and curricula?
No. The standards are not curricula and do not mandate the use of any particular curriculum. Teachers are able to develop their own lesson plans and choose materials, as they have always done. States that have adopted the standards may choose to work together to develop instructional materials and curricula. As states work individually to implement their new standards, publishers of instructional materials and experienced educators will develop new resources around these shared standards.
Are there data collection requirements associated with the Common Core State Standards?
No. Implementing the Common Core State Standards does not require data collection. Standards define expectations for what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade. The means of
Content and Quality of the Standards Do the Common Core State Standards incorporate both content and skills?
Yes. In English language arts, the standards require certain critical content for all students, including:
Classic myths and stories from around the world America’s founding documents Foundational American literature Shakespeare The remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are made at the state and local levels. In addition to content coverage, the Common Core State Standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Taken together, these elements support a student’s ability to learn and apply more demanding math concepts and procedures. The middle school and high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real-world issues and challenges.
Across the English language arts and mathematics standards, skills critical to each content area are emphasized. In particular, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and critical-thinking skills are interwoven into the standards.
How complex are the texts suggested by the English language arts standards?
The Common Core State Standards create a staircase of increasing text complexity, so that students are expected to both develop their skills and apply them to more and more complex texts. For example, the English language arts standards suggest “Grapes of Wrath” as a text that would be appropriate for 9th or 10th grade readers. For more information on suggested texts, please see Appendix A, the Supplement to Appendix A, and Appendix B.
Do the English language arts standards include a required reading list?
No. The Common Core State Standards include sample texts that demonstrate the level of text complexity appropriate for the grade level and compatible with the learning demands set out in the standards. The exemplars of high-quality texts at each grade level provide a rich set of possibilities. This ensures teachers have the flexibility to make their own decisions about what texts to use, while providing an excellent reference point when selecting their texts.
Frequently Asked Questions Page 6 What types of texts are recommended for the English language arts standards?
The Common Core State Standards require certain critical content for all students. In addition to content coverage, the standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. English teachers will still teach their students the literature and literary nonfiction texts that they choose. However, because college and career readiness overwhelmingly focuses on complex texts outside of literature, these standards also ensure students are being prepared to read, write, and research across the curriculum, including in history and science.
Why is the sequence of key math topics in the math standards important?
The mathematical progressions, or sequencing of topics, presented in the Common Core State Standards are coherent and based on evidence. Part of the problem with having many different sets of state standards was that different states covered different topics at different grade levels. Coming to a consensus on the standards guarantees that, from the viewpoint of any given state, topics will move up or down in a consistent grade level sequence. What is important to keep in mind is that the progression in the Common Core is mathematically coherent and leads to college and career readiness at an internationally competitive level.
Students with disabilities ―students eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)―must be challenged to excel within the general curriculum and be prepared for success in their post-school lives, including college and/or careers. These common standards provide an historic opportunity to improve access to rigorous academic content standards for students with disabilities. The continued development of understanding about research-based instructional practices and a focus on their effective implementation will help improve access to mathematics and English language arts (ELA) standards for all students, including those with disabilities.
Students with disabilities are a heterogeneous group with one common characteristic: the presence of disabling conditions that significantly hinder their abilities to benefit from general education (IDEA 34 CFR §300.39, 2004). Therefore, how these high standards are taught and assessed is of the utmost importance in reaching this diverse group of students.
In order for students with disabilities to meet high academic standards and to fully demonstrate their conceptual and procedural knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading, writing, speaking and listening (English language arts), their instruction must incorporate supports and accommodations, including:
Promoting a culture of high expectations for all students is a fundamental goal of the Common Core State Standards. In order to participate with success in the general curriculum, students with disabilities, as
appropriate, may be provided additional supports and services, such as:
Some students with the most significant cognitive disabilities will require substantial supports and accommodations to have meaningful access to certain standards in both instruction and assessment, based on their communication and academic needs. These supports and accommodations should ensure that students receive access to multiple means of learning and opportunities to demonstrate knowledge, but retain the rigor and high expectations of the Common Core State Standards.
References Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 34 CFR §300.34 (a). (2004).
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 34 CFR §300.39 (b)(3). (2004).