What are Common Core State Standards and what do they mean to your student?
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.
-Common Core Mission Statement
Colorado is one of 45 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Math and English Language Arts. And Cherry Creek, like all other districts in Colorado and those in other CCSS states, will be implementing the Common Core in the 2013-14 school year. The CCSS are evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills.
The CCSS are national standards, but not federal standards – they were not developed by the federal government. Instead, they were developed by parents, teachers, administrators and other educational experts working together with state leaders, through the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). The CCSS will ensure that all students receive a high quality education regardless of which state they live in or which school they attend.
“This establishes a true national standard,” said Superintendent Mary Chesley. “For the first time, we will be able to compare our students’ academic performance to that of students across the nation. That will help us ensure that we are providing students with the education they need to succeed. At the same time, this is a significant change that will require significant communication among parents, teachers and students.”
During the 11-12 and 12-13 school years, the Cherry Creek School District is transitioning to the CCSS by:
• training administrators and Math and English Language Arts teachers
• adjusting Math and English Language Arts curriculum and courses by raising rigor and in some cases, changing course titles
A great deal of the content that was in algebra in the past has been moved into 8th grade math and the content from 8th grade has been moved to lower grades. The expectations for student learning in math have been raised across the board.
“Algebra 1 is the grade level course in 9th grade,” said Dr. Floyd Cobb, executive director of curriculum and instruction for Cherry Creek Schools. “But this is not the Algebra you or your father may have taken. Previously Algebra 1 was primarily a skill based course rather than one that focused on the underlying systems and structures of mathematics that require abstract thought. With Common Core State Standards for mathematics, students will be exposed to this content prior to high school allowing them to access the structure and system of mathematics as mathematicians, beginning in Algebra 1 instead of Pre-Calculus. These shifts will ensure that all students have access to the level of rigor and conceptual understanding of college prepared math students. “
In English Language Arts, there is more emphasis on non-fiction reading and research writing as that is what students need in higher education and the workplace. In addition, students will need to be able to locate and evaluate information about a specific topic on the web and combine what they find from a variety of sources into a final product that demonstrates what they have learned about that topic.
During the 13-14 school year, the standards will be put into practice in Cherry Creek classrooms and in 2015, Colorado’s state assessment, TCAP, will be replaced by the national PARCC assessment, which was developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a partnership of 23 states, including Colorado.
“This is a monumental step toward achieving our goal of Excellence and Equity – raising the achievement of all students and closing the achievement gap by providing all our students the opportunity to learn the content that will give them options in their lives,” said Dr. Elliott Asp, assistant superintendent for performance improvement. “It also extends that effort nationwide – ensuring that every child in our district, our state and our nation, gets the high quality education they are entitled to; that is essential to their future success.”