District Newsletter Re. Common Core Standards

Common Core State Standards; What They Are & What They Aren't-
- For more answers to common parent questions, read this handout (.pdf).
- Does Common Core allow for this amount of extensive data collection? And, if so, what data is being collected? Read more here
- For all other Family Resources, visit here.

Why do students need the Common Core standards now? download .pdf version
In the United States, standards for students varied from state to state, so some states had tougher standards. For example, an "A" student in Washington may fall behind a "C" student in Colorado (or vice versa). Common Core changes that by providing consistent learning expectations for all students no matter where they live, and creating clear goals for what students should know and be able to do at every grade level. Schools and teachers in Washington are starting to use the Common Core now because our state needs to do a better job at preparing students to be college and career ready. The new Smarter Balanced tests (formerly known as WASL, HSPE) will institute these standards aligned with the CCSS in English language arts and math. The new tests will be implemented state-wide in the spring of 2015.

Here's why, in part, we need Common Core:

  • Washington has the 12th largest achievement gap in the nation;
  • Less than half of our students graduate from high school ready for college (as measured by SAT and ACT college entrance exams);
  • 50% of students entering college in Washington need remedial classes in math and English to learn things they should have learned in high school; and
  • By 2018, 2 out of every 3 jobs in Washington will require a college degree or certificate.

Washington is a leader in job creation - but those jobs are going to people educated in other states or other countries. Our kids should have the skills to compete and succeed in our homegrown industries. Raising expectations with the Common Core will help all students, no matter where they live, become better prepared with the skills and knowledge needed to collaborate and compete with their peers in other states and around the world.

Major Shifts download .pdf version

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, persuasive writing: Students will be able to write in a clear, concise, and compelling manner, just as they will in college and the workplace.

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 practice real-world math problems in high school and beyond.
  • Coherence: Common Core asks students to connect back to learning they have previously mastered in order to reinforce concepts.
  • Rigor: Common Core requires a balance of concept mastery, 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.

The Economic Benefits of Common Core Standards download .pdf version

Washington's College and Career Ready Standards will help strengthen our state's economy:

  • College- and career-ready standards are critical to the business community because they were designed to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.
  • Washington's College and Career Ready Standards and tests are critical to Washington's economic development because they were designed to give all students today the knowledge and skills they will need to be prepared for the careers of tomorrow, including the ability to communicate effectively, work in groups, apply math in real-world situations, read and analyze both literature and informational text, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, and preserver in solving problems.
  • The Standards are an important step in building a stronger workforce in Washington. They will help fuel innovation and strengthen the state's economy.
  • The Standards respond directly to the request.

What you can do as a business leader?:

  • As employers, you can share information with your staff about Washington's College and Career Ready Standards.
  • Include information in your employee newsletters, on your intranet, or at an upcoming staff meeting.
  • Invite local education leaders in to share about the change and how they can get involved as a community partner to support students' learning (e.g. volunteering, tutoring, supporting their own children's education).
  • As business leaders, you can help champion the Standards and support education in your community by building relationships with your local schools, sharing information with your networks (Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, etc.).

CCSS Resources

With the Smarter Balanced testing window starting the Spring of 2015, it's a good time to review resources available to share with families about our K-12 learning standards and testing. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has consolidated these resources here, http://www.k12.wa.us/resources/.