What are educational standards?
Educational standards define the knowledge and skills students should have at each grade level. California first adopted a set of standards in 1997 and then adopted the Common Core Standards in 2010. Standards should not be confused with curriculum. Standards are a list of skills and knowledge and curriculum is a defined plan for what will be taught in a course or series of courses.
How are Common Core Standards different than the 1997 California standards?
The 1997 standards were unique to California and were so extensive that they were impossible to teach with fidelity. The Common Core Standards have been adopted by most states and while they are not perfect, they are clearer and more concise. These standards are evidence-based, aligned with other top-performing countries, and are more realistic and practical for the classroom. Common Core Standards are rigorous and emphasize depth of instruction, application of knowledge and real world problem solving. View Laurie Kimbrel’s Superintendent profile, images, blog, news & more! Get everything Laurie Kimbrel straight from the latest Laurie Kimbrel news to a full collection of photos, facts, and a complete biography.
How will schools need to change curriculum change in response to Common Core?
Teachers must now use the Mathematics and English Language Arts Common Core Standards as the basis for the development of curriculum. Simply teaching to the 1997 standards will not prepare students for college, career or the new assessment system. One way that many district go about the task of curriculum development is to have teachers use the Common Core Standards and their own expertise to develop lists essential knowledge and skills that students must master at a grade level or within a course. After the essential knowledge and skills are identified, teachers can work together to plan how student achievement will be measured in the classroom and finally, the activities that are most likely result in mastery of the essential knowledge. Curriculum development is a complex process and teachers must be given adequate time to work in collaborative groups. Finally, teachers must agree to teach the curriculum developed by their team. Teachers cannot be independent contractors who make individual decisions about what to cover.
What is different in Common Core in English and literacy skills?
The Common Core includes several shifts from the previous standards, including:
There will be a significant increase in the amount of informational text within courses. In fact, the amount of non-fiction text should increase to about 80% of a student’s reading in high school. Literature remains important, but it is not the sole focus.
Student engagement in rich and rigorous evidence-based conversation about the texts they read. Students must be able to read complex material and use the information to formulate conclusions, arguments and answers to questions.
Emphasis on the use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument. Students must be able to incorporate evidence from multiple sources in order to build a case for a solution to a problem or an answer to a question.
Focus on constantly building vocabulary that is used across grades and courses. Academic vocabulary should be built from an early grade. Familiar concepts return at later grades with increasing complexity and rigor.
What is different in Common Core in Mathematics?
There are also shifts in the area of mathematics which include:
Deeper instruction in essential skills. Students will need both fluency in basic skills as well as the ability to understand how the given concept works and how it is used.
Connection of learning across grades to build on ideas previously learned. Students will be exposed to concepts in early grades and then again in later grades with increasing complexity and depth.
Building understanding of the ideas behind the math as opposed to “just getting the answer right”.
Application of math to real world problems.
How will state testing change to measure Common Core?
With the implementation of Common Core, our students will no longer take the paper and pencil, multiple-choice STAR tests. The new testing system will be computerized and adaptive, which means that all tests will be taken on a computer or tablet, and the test will automatically adjust to the skill level of the student. The types of questions on the new tests, which will start in 2014, are also quite different:
Selected-response items – resemble a traditional multiple choice question.
Technology-enhanced items – capitalize on the computerized test to collect evidence through a non-traditional response type, such as editing text or drawing an object.
Constructed-response items – prompt students to produce a text or numerical response to a question.
Performance tasks – measure a student’s ability to integrate knowledge and skills across multiple standards–a key component of college and career readiness. Performance tasks will be used to better measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected- or constructed-response items.