NUSD Moving to Common Core Standards — Far from Common

NUSD addresses the Common Core State Standards and what they're doing to prepare for the transition.

Since 2010, 45 states and four U.S. territories have adopted the same standards for English and math called the Common Core Standards.  In 2009, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices committed to developing a set of standards that would help prepare students for success in college and career. 

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was a voluntary, state-led effort coordinated by these two groups to establish clear and consistent education standards.  Parents, educators, content experts, researchers, national organizations, and community groups from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia all participated in the development of the standards. 

These new standards were developed by states and for states; built upon strengths and lessons learned in states and the experiences of teachers, content experts, and leading thinkers; and feedback from the general public.  They were informed by other top performing countries, and grounded in research and evidence. The CCSS were developed for English-language arts and mathematics, kindergarten through 12th grade.

On Aug. 2, 2010, the California State Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the recommendations of the Academic Content Standards Commission, a commission established by Senate Bill 1 from the fifth Extraordinary Session, to develop academic content standards in language arts and mathematics. Prior to adoption, the standards commission evaluated the CCSS for rigor and alignment to California standards. They inserted words, phrases and select California standards in their entirety to maintain California’s high expectations for students.  Implementation of the CCSS began after the adoption in August 2010.  A timeline from the California Department of Education can be found here.  

For Novato Unified School District and districts all over the country, a successful transition to implement these standards requires careful planning and professional development. At NUSD, we are working on building foundational resources and opportunities within our district to strengthen our teachers’ knowledge on the shifts with instruction as we implement CCSS.

In August 2012, NUSD began the school year by providing multiple opportunities for teachers to attend trainings on materials that support the CCSS implementation and higher order thinking skills. In the early fall, we established CCSS collaborative groups for K-12 English language arts, elementary math, secondary math and elementary science in order to develop teacher leaders that can help inform and support teachers at all sites with the new standards. These groups meet monthly and have been providing important information to all teachers.

With the transition to CCSS under way, it is our goal to include all stakeholders as we support teachers through these exciting times. We will do this by providing parent newsletters that highlight the Common Core Initiative, hold parent education nights to inform parents and the community, and present new and evolving information to our board members as we strengthen our instruction and curriculum.

We will be holding our first Parent Education Night on the Common Core State Standards at 6 p.m. March 11 at the district office. 

— Amanda Langford, Ruthanne Bexton, Megan Pettis and Vicki Romero, NUSD Curriculum and Instruction

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tina McMillan February 17, 2013 at 01:14 AM
This link takes you to the state website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/index.asp This link is to a document that describes the new standards for English Language Arts: http://www.scoe.net/castandards/agenda/2010/ela_ccs_recommendations.pdf California’s Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects This link describes the new standards for Math: http://www.scoe.net/castandards/agenda/2010/ela_ccs_recommendations.pdf Parents’ Guide to Student Success http://pta.org/files/2012_NPTA_PG-Kindergarten.pdf Common Core State Standards: Shifts for Students and Parents: http://engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/shifts-for-students-and-parents.pdf This is a state website and it has downloads in English and Spanish providing parents and students with information by grade level that describes what will be learned by the end of each grade level. Here are examples of shifts in ELA and in Math. "6 Shifts in ELA/Literacy Read as much non fiction as fiction. Learn about the world by reading Read more challenging material closely. Discuss reading using evidence. Write non-fiction using evidence. Increase academic vocabulary." 6 Shifts in Mathematics Focus: learn more about fewer, key topics. Build skills within and across grades. Develop speed and accuracy. Really know it, Really do it. Use it in the real world. Think fast AND solve problems.
Tina McMillan February 17, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Taking on common core state standards is a huge step toward curriculum reform. It speaks to failed policies that did not address the importance of curriculum in learning. To be successful schools must move from a skills based approach to a content based approach. Does having a larger vocabulary matter? Maybe it does... Thoughts on Education Policy Tuesday, October 9, 2012 It's All About Vocabulary? "The edusphere is abuzz about this NY Times piece on early vocabulary growth that ran over the weekend. Though the piece focuses on the current controversy surrounding test-based admissions to the top high schools in NYC, it's mostly based on the famous Hart and Risley book in which the authors conclude that children from families on welfare hear 32 million fewer words and 560,000 fewer encouragements than children of professional families between birth and age 4 -- and that these differences lead to subsequent differences in vocabulary and achievement." http://www.edpolicythoughts.com/2012/10/its-all-about-vocabulary.html Over and over again we are seeing examples of inequities in education being based not in poverty of resources but impoverished language development. If we want all students to succeed we must enrich spoken language to develop reading comprehension. ED Hirsch says, ""there is strong evidence that increasing the general knowledge and vocabulary of a child before age six is the single highest correlate with later success".
K8Teacher February 26, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Announced in 2009, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, is the latest development in what is now a 20-year trend in which states are being held to standards-based mandatory tests of student achievement. The initiative's purpose is to "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 supposed to be relevant to the real world, reflect the knowledge and skills that students need for success in college and careers, and place them in a position in which they can compete in a global economy. Some supportive funding is coming from the governors and state schools chiefs, with additional support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and others.
K8Teacher February 26, 2013 at 03:00 PM
These new Standards were developed by states and for states; built upon strengths and lessons learned in states and the experiences of teachers, content experts, and leading thinkers; and feedback from the general public. They were informed by other top performing countries, and grounded in research and evidence. The CCSS were developed for English-language arts and mathematics, kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Tina McMillan February 26, 2013 at 05:41 PM
The Skills Stranglehold by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. February 21st, 2013 http://blog.coreknowledge.org/2013/02/21/the-skills-stranglehold/ "It’s not like it wasn’t obvious already, but today’s Metlife Survey of the American Teacher confirms that the nation’s teachers are demoralized. How could it be otherwise, with pressure to build the Common Core plane while flying it and also facing new evaluation and accountability requirements? I don’t want to brush off any of these very real problems, but I do want to suggest that they are not the heart of the matter. Fundamentally, the problem educators face is freeing themselves from the skills stranglehold. It is preventing them from understanding the Common Core standards, preventing them from meeting their own goals as professionals, and preventing them from closing achievement gaps between poor and privileged students. We see evidence of it everywhere, especially in the MetLife survey. Nine in ten teachers and principals say they are knowledgeable about the Common Core standards, and a majority of teachers say they are already using them a great deal. At the same time, teachers, especially in later grades, are not all that confident about the effect the Common Core will have." The report states (p. 65): Preparing Students for College and Careers A Survey of Teachers, Students, Parents and Fortune 1000 Executives http://eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED519278.pdf


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