Friday, April 20, 2012

What Every Parent Should Know About Common Core Standards

The state of Wisconsin is currently in the process of adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  The CCSS are a coherent progression of learning expectations in English language arts and mathematics designed to prepare K-12 students for college and career success (1).  Wisconsin currently has model academic standards in all subject areas, however these standards will be replaced by the CCSS.

Why the change?
The CCSS communicate what is expected of students at each grade level, putting students, parents, teachers, and school administrators on the same page, working towards shared goals (1).  The change will standardize the content covered, and the level of rigor, which with current standards can vary widely from state to state.

Who developed the standards?
The CCSS initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (2).  The standards were developed by a diverse coalition of educators, parents, college professors, and civil rights groups.  The goal of CCSS is to define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs (2).

What are the key features of the English Language Arts Standards?
Reading:  Growth in text complexity and comprehension.  The CCSS will emphasize providing challenging reading opportunities and development of the skills needed to comprehend (1).

Writing:  Text types, responding to reading and research.  The skills of planning, revising, editing, and publishing will applied to many types of writing.  Specific types of writing (arguments, explanatory, narratives) will addressed (1).

Speaking:  Flexible communication and collaboration.  Students will be required to develop a broad range of useful oral communications (1).

Language:  Grammar, effective use, and vocabulary.  The CCSS include the essential rules of standard written and spoken English, but also include language as a matter of craft (1).

What are the key features of the Math Standards?
There are two types of math standards in the CCSS:  one for mathematical practices and one for mathematical content.   The standards for mathematical practices will be stressed throughout the K-12 mathematical scope and sequence.  They include:
1. Making sense of problems and perseverance in solving them.
2.  Abstract and quantitative reasoning
3. Constructing viable arguments
4. Modeling
5. Strategic use of tools
6. Precision
7. Looking for and making use of structure
8. Looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning (1)

How will the standards be assessed?
In 2014-15 a new standardized testing system will be implemented.  This system will replace the current Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE).  The new test will be multi-faceted and include formative data that will be available to teachers and parents sooner then the current model.

What we are doing to prepare for the change?
Teachers at all levels and in all content areas are already actively investigating the CCSS.  The process of realignment includes study of the standards,  reorganization of curriculum, and content-specific training.  Teachers in all content areas will focus on embedding literacy in their disciplines.  The district plans to use curriculum companion software developed by CESA 7 as a framework for aligning our local curriculum with the Common Core Standards.

Related Resources
1.  What Every Parent Should Know about Common Core Standards
2.  Common Core Standards Website
3.  Cashton Public Schools Transition to the Common Core

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