Q: What are the Common Core State Learning Standards (CCLS)?
The CCLS define what students should know and be able to do in reading, writing and math, from prekindergarten to grade 12. The standards are carefully written so that each grade level builds upon the learning in the prior grade, working toward readiness for college and career upon high school graduation. They replace the NYS learning standards used since 1987.
Q: Why were the standards developed?
Jefferson Middle School fifth-grade teachers Stacy Monroe, Mindi Lydell, Adam Mason and Paul Baker, meet during their math PLC to discuss the new Common Core math modules.
The nation's governors and state education commissioners called for the development of a common set of learning expectations in an effort to ensure that all students in the nation are equally prepared for an internationally competitive workforce. Statistics show that almost half of students graduate from high school without the academic skills needed to take college level courses, enter the military, or pursue technical occupations. As each state has had different learning standards, graduates from some states were even less prepared than others. By adopting a common set of rigorous standards, states are working together to give all students an equal opportunity for success.
Q: Who wrote the standards?
Educational experts, university professors and public school teachers wrote the standards. Their work was guided by scholarly research, comparisons to high performing states and nations, and assessment data that compares the achievement of students across states and worldwide. Input and support were provided by national organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the National PTA.
Q: How will the new standards affect my child?
The CCLS will drive what children learn, how they are taught and how they are tested. Last spring, NYS changed all of its state tests for students in grades 3-8 to be aligned with the new CCLS. The test results give schools an idea about how far away they might be from CCLS proficiency. Schools, however, are just beginning to offer CCLS curriculum this year. At the high school level, this year's Algebra I Regents exam will be CCLS aligned, and students who are freshmen this year will take a CCLS aligned English Regents exam when they are juniors.
Q: Are the standards appropriate for all students?
The standards are specifically written to allow teachers more time to work in depth on the essential learning for each grade. This additional time gives all students the opportunity to better understand what is being taught, and to be more successful in their learning. The standards also require that all students, including English language learners and those with learning disabilities, receive the support needed to be successful.
Q: Do the standards tell teachers what to teach and how to teach?
No. The standards describe the concepts and skills that students should develop in each grade, to be ready for the next grade. They do not prescribe that specific books be read, or that a particular curriculum be followed. Schools and teachers have the flexibility to decide how to best support students in meeting the learning expectations for each grade level.
Q: What are curriculum modules?
The NYS Education Department has provided resources to teachers to assist them in providing instruction that is fully aligned to the CCLS. These resources, called modules, include curriculum materials that teachers may use to plan their daily teaching. The curriculum modules were developed for NYS, and are available at no cost. Jamestown has decided to use them in order to ensure our instruction is Common Core aligned.
Q: Where can I learn more about the Common Core Standards?
There are a number of resources available for parents available online at www.jamestownpublicschools.org. Look under the "Academics" tab and the "Common Core" link listed under "Resources." Parents should also contact their child's teacher or principal to ask about what their child is working on in class, and how they can help to support the learning at home.