INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Much has been discussed about the new Common Core State Standards coming to our schools, yet little is understood. Here is what you need to know.
CCSS is a state-led initiative, coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The intent of the CCSS is to provide clear, evidence-based goals for student learning and “help ensure that students are receiving a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state.” Until CCSS, each state set its own standards, with varying degrees of academic success. Over time, children moving from Florida to Michigan to Nevada will be able to do so more seamlessly through academic content aligned nationally.
Currently, 45 states have voluntarily adopted CCSS; holdouts are Minnesota (which adopted English but not math), Nebraska, Texas, Alaska, and Virginia. Some national curricula, such as the APEX courses we offer at the eLearning Cafe, are already aligned to CCSS. The newly updated and expanded courses reflect a noticeable increase in challenging material and expected levels of proficiency.
Importantly, CCSS raises the bar for all 45 states that have adopted the standards. No state lowered its English or math standards to align to Common Core. With Nevada being at or near the bottom of national academic standings, the bar will be raised significantly for Nevada students.
Do CCSS exist for all subjects?
No. CCSS currently exist for math and English for grades K-12. They can be downloaded here: www.corestandards.org. The English standards set requirements not only for English language arts (ELA) but also for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects.
A broader initiative to set science standards is underway, led by Next Generation Science Standards and coordinated by the National Research Council and others. A draft report is due out this fall and can be downloaded from www.nextgenscience.org.
The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards is leading the revision of the National Standards for Arts Education. Visit the National Art Education Association website to learn more: www.arteducators.org/news/national-coalition-for-core-arts-standards-nccas.
In April 2012, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages published an alignment of the National Standards for Learning Languages with the English Language Arts CCSS: www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1.
When will CCSS come to Nevada?
Some of them are already here. The math and English CCSS were rolled out nationally on June 2, 2010. Nevada adopted them 16 days later, and they should be fully implemented in Nevada schools by the 2015-2016 school year. See the website of the Nevada Coalition for the Transition to CCSS here: https://bighorn.doe.nv.gov/sites/CommonCore/ccss/default.aspx.
Of course, new standards mean new tests to measure whether those standards are being met. There will be new assessment tests aligned to the new standards that are being developed for Nevada by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC) that will be fully implemented by 2015-2016 for English and math.
What is CCSS not?
CCSS is not a curriculum. It prescribes what materials should be taught, and leaves it to the discretion of teachers and states to define how those materials should be taught.
CCSS is a state-led initiative and not a federal Department of Education program.
So who does not like CCSS?
Apparently no one. There is widespread, documented support for these standards from such disparate groups as the American Federation of Teachers, Core Knowledge Foundation, College Board, National Education Association, Business Roundtable, National Parent Teacher Association, and Alliance for Excellent Education. Letters of support from these organizations can be read at the CCSS website.
Myths about the CCSS abound, of course, such as the thought that the CCSS does away with all literature and all student reading will become non-fiction. (Not true, of course.) Download a complete set of CCSS at www.corestandards.org and learn more about the content goals for each grade.
For more FAQs about CCSS, see www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions and inform yourself about this important and most welcome development in Nevada education.
— Kathryn E Kelly, DrPH, is founder/CLO of eLearning Cafes, Inc. Learn more at www.elearningcafes.org.