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What are Common Core State Standards?

  • There has been considerable discussion about the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It is important to understand what the Common Core (CC) is and is not. Most simply, the Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA). Learning activities in Social Studies and Science are expected to reinforce the skills taught in ELA and math. For now, the Social Studies standards remain intact from the previous existing state standards; however, science has adopted new standards called The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). How we teach to these standards and the kinds of work students are expected to do changes in this new era of the CCSS movement.

    Although there is some concern that the federal government has created the CC to control education nationally, the nation's governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations, the National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers, parents, school administrators, and experts from across the country, together with state leaders, provided input into the development of the standards. The actual implementation of the Common Core, including how the standards are taught, the curriculum developed, and the materials used to support teachers as they help students reach the standards, is led entirely at the state and local levels. To date 44 states and four territories have adopted the CCSS.

    While students in some states will have to make a significant adjustment to more rigorous standards, California's previous standards were generally considered to be the second most rigorous in the nation. Hence, our students will not be making major adjustments in terms of the content of the standards. Where significant change will occur is in what students are called upon to do with those standards. Previously, state testing focused on the lower level cognitive skill of memorization. An old adage states, "What you test is what you get." Accordingly, much classroom instruction focused on having students receive and then, oftentimes, memorize unrelated facts. The focus will now be on helping students acquire the academic and workforce skills that will allow them to be successful post-high school. For today's students to successfully compete for the jobs in today's economy, post secondary educational institutions and the workforce have expressed that students must be proficient in the "4 Cs" which are:

    Critical Thinking- A critical thinker:

    • Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely.
    • Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively.
    • Comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards.
    • Uses various types of reasoning, such as inductive and deductive, as appropriate to a situation.
    • Thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as needs be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences.
    • Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.
    • Analyzes how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems.
    • Effectively analyzes and evaluates evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs.
    • Analyzes and evaluates alternative points of view.
    • Synthesizes and makes connections between information and arguments.
    • Identifies and asks significant questions that clarify various points of view and leads to better solutions.

     

    Communication-One must be able to:

    • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts.
    • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes, and intentions.
    • Use communication for a range of purposes (i.e. inform, instruct, motivate, and persuade).
    • Use multiple media and technologies, and know how to assess impact and their effectiveness a priori.
    • Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multilingual and multicultural).

     

    Collaboration-Collaboration is essential in our classrooms because it is inherent in the nature of how work is accomplished in our civic and workforce lives. Fifty years ago, much work was accomplished by individuals working alone, but not today. Much of all significant work is accomplished in teams, and in many cases global teams. One must be able to do:

    • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams.
    • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal.
    • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member. 

     

    Creativity-One must be able to:

    • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming).
    • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts).
    • Elaborate, refine, analyze, and evaluate original ideas to improve and maximize creative efforts.
    • Develop, implement, and communicate new ideas to others effectively.
    • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work.
    • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real-world limits in adopting new ideas.
    • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation are part of a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes.

     

    Further, students are expected to become proficient users of technology, seamlessly employing technology to enhance their proficiency in the 4 Cs.

    The English Language Arts Common Core State Standards emphasize literacy across all subject matters and incorporates more informational text into the curriculum than previously.  This emphasis leads credence to preparing students who are College and Career Ready by the time they graduate. Overall, the English Language Arts standards focus on reading, writing, speaking, and listening at all grade levels.

    With respect to mathematical practice, the eight general standards for all grade levels include:

    1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

    2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

    3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

    4. Model with mathematics.

    5. Use appropriate tools strategically.

    6. Attend to precision.

    7. Look for and make use of structure.

    8. Look for and express regularity in repeating reasoning.

    It is an exciting time in education and Temple City students are better prepared than students across the nation to make the transition to Common Core. In the capable hands of our teaching staff, our students have the ability to be successful in the 21st century.

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