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Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District

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What is it?

The CCSS are intended to provide a degree of coherence in academic expectations for students, teachers, and the educational system that has not previously been available in American education.  CCSS differ from our current standards in rigor, relevance, depth and specificity.  Rigor, especially in the early grades, with evidence-based, explanatory and persuasive writing as well as elementary algebraic thinking introduced to students as early as in Kindergarten and first grade.  The ever-so-popular notion that such expectations are “developmentally inappropriate”, have finally been overturned by the CCSS which claim that “writing or failing to write, computing and applying algebraic thinking by the ages of 5 or 6 are not a reflection brain development, but a CONSEQUENCE OF ADULT EXPECTATIONS.”

CCSS are rigorous, research-based, internationally bench-marked, and relevant to the real world.  This set of vertically aligned and articulated content standards encourages the highest level of achievement for every student by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level to ensure success in college and career. The standards offer a refreshing emphasis on nonfiction reading and writing, and a focus on developing literacy in all subject areas through inclusion of  persuasive, informative, and narrative writing across the curriculum.  The success of this latest reform movement will depend largely on the implementation process and on what students will experience in every single teacher’s classroom. Whereas our former state standards due to their breadth and multitude, bred superficiality and coverage rather than practice, feedback, depth, and rigor, the new CCSS allow teachers to focus on a set of essential standards and to develop a deep and rich understanding of these standards. Teaching in the Common Core transcends subject matter and demands a re-examination of our existing system of professional learning, curricular development, assessment and accountability. Successful implementation requires strong instructional leadership in every school, and well prepared teachers in every classroom. Educators must possess a thorough understanding of what students are expected to know and be able to do, as well as having at their disposal an array of instructional strategies designed to support every student in meeting those expectations.

Common Core State Standards exist in English and Math, but transcend all subjects, hence the title CCSS for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. The math standards focus on applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world challenges, helping students develop a depth of understanding and ability to apply mathematics to novel situations. ELA standards focus attention on helping students become competent readers, writers and thinkers, with fluency in handling literary and information texts.  Proper implementation requires significant student collaboration, fluency with multimedia and technology, and the development of strong complex reasoning, problem solving, and communication skills across content areas. 

There are seven guiding principles that must be followed as we implement the Common Core:
  • Facilitate high quality professional learning opportunities for educators to ensure that every student has access to teachers who are prepared to teach to the levels of rigor and depth required by the CCSS.  This includes providing support to teachers in the use of evidence-based instructional practices that emphasize research and revision.
  • Provide CCSS-aligned instructional resources designed to meet the diverse needs of all student
  • Develop and transition to CCSS-aligned assessment systems to inform instruction, establish priorities for professional learning, and provide tools for accountability.
  • Collaborate with parents and extended learning communities to integrate the CCSS into programs and activities beyond the K-12 setting.
  • Collaborate with the postsecondary and business communities and additional stakeholders to ensure that all students are prepared for success in career and college.
  • Seek, create, and disseminate resources to support stakeholders as CCSS systems implementation moves forward.
  • Design and establish systems of effective communication among stakeholders to continuously identify areas of need and disseminate information.