In it’s newsletter, Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 gave its take on the new Common Core Standards imposed by the State Board of Education.
An Overview of the Common Core State Standards
Connecting Standards, Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction
By now, many people have heard about the new learning standards that include the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
These standards, initiated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in the spring of 2009, were adopted by Illinois and 44 other states and officially launched in 2010.
According to the group’s mission statement, “the CCSS aims 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 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”.
The writers established criteria to guide the development of standards that are:
- Fewer, higher and clearer
- Aligned with college and work expectations, so that all students are prepared for success upon graduating from high school
- Inclusive of rigorous content and applications of knowledge through higher-order skills, so that all students are prepared for the 21st Century
- Research and evidence-based
Because standards, assessment, curriculum and instruction all work together simultaneously, it is important to see how they are related.
Standards are the “what” – the academic learning outcomes that each student needs to know and be able to do in each grade level and course.
To be effective in improving education and getting all students ready for college and careers, the CCSS must be combined with a content-rich curriculum and robust assessments, both aligned to the standards.
Curriculum serves as the road map, the high quality lessons, the research-based instructional strategies and the high-quality delivery system that ensures that all students achieve the desiredend.
Aligned to the standards, a unit of study is a series of specific lessons, learning experiences and related assessments that may last anywhere from two to six weeks.
Please note: The CCSS is not a curriculum but consists of end of the year benchmarks in English/Language Arts and Math for each grade level. District 47 designs and adopts curriculum and units of study to ensure that our students are meeting the standards.
Assessments provide the evidence of whether or not students are reaching the goal and purpose of curriculum and attaining the standards in each unit of study. The standards are analyzed to determine exactly what students need to know and be able to do.
Instruction is the “how”. Educators use specialized instructional strategies to help students learn the standards and then demonstrate their understanding on a variety of informal and formal assessments.
The results of these assessments are used to carefully diagnose individual student learning needs and to plan for differentiation, intervention and/or enrichment. In this sense, assessment does drive instruction.
There are four strands that make up the English/Language Arts Standards.
- speaking and listening
There are also Foundational Skills that address print concepts and phonological awareness (K-1) and phonics, word recognition and fluency (K-5).
Another key aspect to the standards is that there are literacy standards across all subject areas including Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects.
The CCSS recognize that students read and write in different ways for different content areas.
The math standards are divided into two sets of standards: Mathematical Content and Mathematical Practice.
The Content Standards form the major part of the document and are organized by conceptual categories including number and quantity, algebra, functions, geometry, modeling and probability and statistics.
The Practice Standards describe areas of expertise in math that students must develop and practice from kindergarten through 12th grade.
This past spring, the state released new science standards entitled “The Next Generation Science Standards”.
These standards are designed to provide learning experiences for students in the core areas of science including physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences and engineering, technology and the applications of science.
District 47 staff has spent much time exploring and understanding the shifts necessary to implement the CCSS and aligning our curriculum to meet these new standards.
This past summer, teachers from all grade levels were involved in developing units of study and new pacing guides that will be implemented during the ‘13-’14 school year.
Our plans are to continue to develop more units, to refine our common assessments, to dive deeper into the new science standards and to continue to provide staff with the professional development necessary to implement the CCSS.
Our goal is to ensure that our students are well prepared for the future.
To read more about the Common Core Standards, please visit http://www.isbe.net/