Common Core State Standards

What are the Common Core State Standards?

Common Core logoThe Common Core State Standards (CCSS) outline grade level goals in math and English Language Arts (ELA) for all K-12 students. The goals are designed to prepare students for the advanced literacy skills needed for college, career success and to compete in the global economy. The CCSS communicate what is expected of students at each grade level. Until now every state had different learning standards. CCSS bring consistency among districts and states, and increase the rigor of the learning goals.

Common standards allow for collaboration among states on best practices and professional development. The standards are the result of a state-led initiative overseen by organizations of the nation's governors and state education commissioners. Hundreds of teachers, education researchers, mathematicians, and other experts across the country collaborated in developing the CCSS. A final version of the CCSS was released in June 2010. The Issaquah School District is currently transitioning to these new standards. In Washington public schools, these new standards will be assessed beginning in the spring of 2015. Nearly all states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS.

The Common Core State Standards have been developed to be:

  • Clearly focused on fewer and higher standards;
  • Aligned with college and career 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;
  • Internationally benchmarked, so that all students are prepared for succeeding in our global economy and society; and
  • Research and evidence-based.

A common set of standards ensures that all students, no matter where they live, will be focused on graduating from high school prepared for postsecondary education and careers. In an increasingly mobile society, families with children transferring to new schools will not have to adjust to new learning expectations. Standards will be the same for all students in states adopting the CCSS, making transitions smoother for students.

Major Shifts in Math

  • Greater Focus: Common Core dives deeper into key concepts, such as fractions and proportions, to ensure students establish a strong foundation before moving to the next level of difficulty. More focus allows students to apply what they are learning to real-world math problems.
  • Coherence: Common Core asks students to connect back to learning they have previously mastered in order to reinforce concepts and see mathematics as a subject that makes sense.
  • Rigor: Common Core requires a balance of conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and real-world application. Although memorization is required, students will also be asked to work beyond memorization and communicate the thinking behind answers.

Major Shifts in English Language Arts

  • Include more informational text: Students will still read fiction and literary classics, and will also be asked to read and understand non-fiction informational texts like the Gettysburg Address in English or history class or a scientific article in biology or chemistry class. The majority of required reading in college and the workplace is non-fiction informational text, so this change will help prepare students for the next step.
  • Focus on literacy in all content areas: All teachers of specific content areas, such as history or science, are expected to instruct students on how to be master readers in their subject. This is also called "disciplinary literacy."
  • Expose students to more complex texts: A student's ability to read complex text determines his/her college readiness more than any other factor.
  • Develop evidence-based, opinion and argumentative writing: Students will be able to write in a clear, concise, and compelling manner, just as they will in college and the workplace.

How will the CCSS be assessed?

Teachers will monitor student progress on the CCSS throughout the school year. This monitoring allows teachers to adjust their instruction to meet students' needs.

Since the 2014-15 school year the CCSS have been assessed using the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA). These assessments are designed to measure higher level thinking skills. The tests are given on computers, and are adaptive, meaning the test automatically adjusts the level of rigor for each question based on how each student answers the question. To take a Smarter Balance Practice Test follow this link.

Learn more about CCSS