Preparing All Students for Success in College, Career, and a Global Economy
Most of the material in this issue is related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). You might have heard about them. They provide a practical way to prepare children for the challenges of a constantly changing world – by learning step-by-step the real-world skills they need for career and college. The standards clearly spell out what students are expected to learn at each grade level. They are designed to be robust and relevant.
Before these new national standards, each state created its own. This led to significant difference in one’s education based just on where one happened to reside. Now, the same standards will drive what’s taught throughout the entire country. Despite the state’s budget problems, California must move forward now so that all children get a world-class education, and graduate ready to contribute to the future of our state and our country.
Throughout California, and here in our district, these standards are being put to work over a relatively brief time, using them as the foundation for remodeling the education system. The standards keep the best of what we have, but replace outdated ways of learning with a clear focus on the key knowledge and skills students need, and provide teachers the time to teach them well.
The Habits of Mind
In addition to the academic content of what will be taught at each grade level, a major component of the CCSS relates to the process of learning. These “habits of mind” are the characteristics and dispositions used by intelligent, successful people when they are confronted with problems that don’t have obvious solutions. In the English language arts standards, these are referred to as “Capacities.” In the mathematic standards, they are called “Practices.”
|Literacy Capacities||Mathematical Practices|
|Demonstrate independence||Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them|
|Build strong content knowledge||Reason abstractly and quantitatively|
|Respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline||
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
|Comprehend as well as critique||Model with mathematics|
|Value evidence||Use appropriate tools strategically|
|Use technology and digital media strategically and capably||Attend to precision|
|Come to understand other perspectives and cultures||Look for and make use of structure|
|Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning|
Like an orchestra learning a challenging new symphony, bringing these standards to life in our schools will take time and energy, and the costs must be managed over time. These standards provide every part of our education system the same sheet music – with the clear goals of career and college readiness for all. And we all have a part to play.
The District’s CCSS Implementation Plan
We are in the process of creating the Oak Grove Union School District’s Common Core State Standards Implementation Plan.. It is a living document; the first draft was presented to our Board of Education in October 2013. The plan identifies the major phases and activities involved in implementing the CCSS and will serve as the blueprint for remodeling the practices of our district to support student success using the CCSS.
Transitioning: What Parents and Guardians Can Do Now
Parents and guardians are crucial partners in laying the groundwork for a smooth transition to the new standards. Parents and guardians can:
Learn about the CCSS and the district’s transition plan.
Play an active role in your child’s education at home. If you notice your child is struggling in a certain area, consult with his or her teacher to identify strategies and resources that might be helpful.
Meet with your child’s teacher to discuss what your child will be learning over the coming year:
How will classroom instruction shift to align to the CCSS?
What will be different and what will remain the same for children?
What are the school’s plans for the transition?
Will There Be New Tests for the New Standards?
Yes, we will be leaving behind the familiar STAR tests this year, and replacing them with new tests that will measure student progress toward career and college readiness. California is a governing member of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) that’s creating the new tests. We are slated to begin using them in 2014-2015. Due to the signing on AB 484, there will be no STAR test this year in English Language Arts and mathematics. In the spring of 2014, there will be limited field testing of the new assessment instruments.
This is an exciting time in education. While it will require a tremendous amount of work, our community (and those elsewhere in the U.S.) will be stronger when students graduate with the skills and knowledge needed in tomorrow’s job market. Your participation in this transition is appreciated, and I’m happy to visit with anyone who has questions or would like to learn more about our transition plans to the CCSS.
I am honored to serve as your superintendent.
Kevin E. Harrigan
Resources for Parents and Guardians
The following Web resources provide current information:
K-8 California's Common Core Standards Parent Handbook:
This handbook, created by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) in consultation with the California State PTA, gives parents an introduction to California's CCSS and a summary of what students are expected to learn as they advance from kindergarten through grade eight.
SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium Information:
California Department of Education CCSS Web Page: http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/ (select “Students/Parents” tab)