Find answers to some of the most pressing concerns expressed by teachers regarding the implementation of the CCSS in their classrooms.
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Q: I’m overwhelmed by all the resources and information that exist about the Common Core. Where do I start?
A: EngageNY.org is a website developed and maintained by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to support the implementation of key aspects of the New York State Board of Regents Reform Agenda. This is the official website for current materials and resources related to the Regents Reform Agenda, which includes implementation of the NYS P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). Search easily for information within the following categories:
Common Core Learning Standards
Common Core Implementation Resources
Common Core Curriculum
Common Core Assessments
One of the goals of EngageNY.org is to provide teachers with tools and information to assist the understanding and facilitating of the pedagogical shifts demanded by the standards. Knowledge of these shifts is essential to implementation.
1. Balancing Information and Literacy Text
2. Building Knowledge in the Disciplines
3. Staircase of Complexity
4. Text-based Answers
5. Writing from Sources
6. Academic Vocabulary
4. Deep Understanding
The EngageNY website also provides a comprehensive video library that can be filtered by grade level, subject area, Common Core Standards and instructional shifts, and teacher and leader evaluation rubric indicators. Videos range in length from short 5 minute clips to longer views of lessons up to 40 minutes.
Q: What are the standards? Where did they come from? What does a college and career ready student look like?
A: The Common Core Standards are the culmination of an extended, broad-based effort to fulfill the charge issued by the states to create the next generation of K-12 standards in order to help ensure that all students are college and career ready no later than the end of high school. Led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA), this work builds on the foundation laid by states in their decades-long work on crafting high-quality education standards. The Standards also draw on the most important international models as well as research and input from numerous sources, including state departments of education, scholars, assessment developers, professional organizations, education from kindergarten through college, and parents, student and other members of the public. The Standards are an extension of a prior initiative led by CCSSO and NGA to develop College and Career Readiness (CCR) standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening and language as well as in mathematics.
According to ACHIEVE.org, “Simply put, ‘college and career readiness’ refers to the content knowledge and skills high school graduates must possess in English and mathematics â€“ including, but not limited to, reading, writing communications, teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving â€“ to be successful in any and all future endeavors. Of course, readiness for college and careers depends on more than English and mathematics knowledge; to be successful after high school, all graduates must possess the knowledge, habits and skills that can only come from a rigorous, rich and well-rounded high school curriculum.
What is “COLLEGE” ready?
College today means much more than just pursuing a four- year degree at a university. Being “college ready” means being prepared for any postsecondary education or training experience, including study at two- and four-year institutions leading to a postsecondary credential (i.e. a certificate, license, Associates or Bachelor’s degree). Being ready for college means that a high school graduate has the English and mathematics knowledge and skills necessary to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses without the need for remedial coursework.
What is “CAREER” ready?
In today’s economy, a “career” is not just a job. A career provides a family-sustaining wage and pathways to advancement and requires postsecondary training or education. A job may be obtained with only a high school diploma, but offers no guarantee of advancement or mobility. Being ready for a career means that a high school graduate has the English, and mathematics knowledge and skills needed to qualify for and succeed in the postsecondary job training and/or education necessary for their chosen career (i.e.technical/vocational program, community college, apprenticeship or significant on-the-job training).
Q: Do I need to memorize the CCSS?
A: It is not necessary to memorize every standard, detail and appendix. It will be helpful to bookmark the CCSS website for quick reference on any digital device and also to print out a copy for easy access in your workspace. The critical step toward understanding and utilization is exploring and unpacking the shifting expectations with your colleagues to determine what they will look like in your classroom. You can find information about the shifts here.
Q: Do I have to throw away all the units I’ve created and start over?
A: Your units may already align to the standards in many ways. You should not feel compelled to start an entire curriculum from scratch just because the standards have changed. Still, aligning units requires an understanding of what is now expected and so being familiar with the shifting expectations is essential. Reach out to your colleagues and departments. Examine the standards together to determine what content you already address that works for the new purposes and student goals you are hoping to achieve.
Example modules, units and lessons can be found for ELA and Math on the EngageNY website.
While there are many resources, some may better assist your endeavors than others. One option is the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC). LDC is an expanding set of classroom teachers, school and district leaders, state departments and state organizations and a wide array of service providers working together to develop our shared framework and build out tasks, modules, and courses that meet the challenges of secondary literacy head on. Created with the National Agenda and the CCSS in mind, it has been given research and development grants to develop its tools and is being used in classroom across the country. On their website, you can find template tasks to help you focus your goals and objectives. Additional template tasks that specifically use language that meets the requirements of the CCSS can be found here.
Additional support is provided through a variety of programs led by the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center. For a list of programs and registration information, click here.
Q: What is a module? This term is unfamiliar.
A: EngageNY.org is structuring curriculum from lesson to unit to module to grade. Curriculum includes year-long scope and sequence documents, module framing/overview documents, performance tasks (for administration in the middle and at the end of each module), lesson plans and lesson plan supporting materials (class work, homework, etc.).
Modules are made up of units and lesson. On EngageNY.org curriculum materials for ELA subjects are structured into 4 levels of hierarchy. You can navigate by grade, then by various modules within the grade. Each module is divided into units, and each unit is further divided into lessons. Curriculum materials for Mathematics subjects are structured into 3 levels of hierarchy. You can navigate by grade, then by various modules within the grade. Each module is then divided into lessons.
The Literacy Design Collaborative defines modules as, “the plan for skills students will learn and instruction that will develop those skills. Modules are built on a common “chassis” so instruction can be shared across a wide variety of grades, content areas, and instructional approaches.” The following questions make up the backbone of an LDC module:
More information about LDC modules, including samples and development tools, can be found here.
For a brief glossary of LDC terminology click here.
Q: My students don’t meet the current CCSS grade level expectations for a variety of reasons. How am I expected to bring them up to grade level in one year, and how will it affect my evaluation?
A: All teachers will have students in their classes that do not meet the CCSS grade level expectations. This is a huge concern. For these students, showing a reasonable amount of growth over the course of the year is essential. Evidence of growth has to be measured through both formative and summative assessments. Use the CCSS as a “rubric” by looking at grade level expectations and plan for differentiation along these lines. Establish clear goals for your students based on these expectations.
Q: How can I use the CCSS for differentiated instruction in my classroom?
A: The CCSS were built with differentiation in mind. Functioning as objectives, the standards are meant to provide you with the flexibility to address diversity in your classroom. Instead of being told how and when to group learners, ways in which materials should be organized and presented, and what instructional delivery strategies to use, you are given the freedom to address these elements based on the specific background and needs of your students.
Find more information about differentiated instruction here.
Q: Is there a separate Standard for students with disabilities, English language learners (ELLs), gifted and talented students, and other students with special and/or different educational needs?
A: It was discussed at length whether to have a separate Standard for students with disabilities and other students with special needs, including gifted and talented students, given the sheer number of students currently classified with a disability in New York schools, and those receiving specialized educational services. In making its decision, national teaching standards including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Standards, teaching standards from other states, and other frameworks such as CLASS and Danielson’s Framework for Teaching were reviewed. These national and state standards and frameworks guided the discussion about and the decision not to separate any one group of students but to incorporate all students, including those with disabilities and others with specialized educational needs, throughout the New York State Teaching Standards. In reviewing other standards and current research, it was concluded that the NYS Teaching Standards must reflect all students in every Standard, including students with disabilities, gifted students, ELLs, bilingual students, etc.
However, beginning in Spring 2012, NYSED launched the Bilingual Common Core Initiative to develop new English as a Second Language and Native Language Arts Standards aligned to the Common Core. As a result of this process, NYSED is developing New Language Arts Progressions (NLAP) and Home Language Arts Progressions (HLAP) for every NYS Common Core Learning Standard in every grade. Information on the Bilingual Common Core Initiative can be found here.
Q: Where can I find appropriate CCSS aligned text resources to meet the required shift to nonfiction?
A: Nonfiction text resources are plentiful. Consult your colleagues across content areas for ideas, as well as your media specialist. The EngageNY website offers a guide on the selection of authentic texts for Common Core instruction, which can be found here. Additionally, the CCSS provide you with text exemplars in Appendix B of the English Language Arts Standards. You will find a range of informational texts for ELA, History/Social Studies and Science/Mathematics/Technical Subjects. ELA Appendix B can be found here.
Q: What resources are out there to help me organize and initiate data collection?
A: Already in your classrooms you gather data from both formative and summative assessments on a regular basis to inform your teaching. Engage in conversations with your colleagues to determine what kind of data you intend to collect and what you hope to learn from it. “Mine” the data for patterns, evidence of growth and weaknesses to assist your instruction. EngageNY.org offers sample assessments, case studies, action plans and other resources to help you find the best system that will work for your classroom. These resources can be located here.
Q: How will programs preparing teachers use the NYS Teaching Standards to improve the practice of teaching?
A: The NYS Teaching Standards will establish the knowledge and skills that teachers will need before they enter the classroom. NYS is moving away from certifying teachers based solely on paper and pencil examinations. The NYS Teaching Standards will form the basis for performance-based assessments that eventually all NYS teachers will be required to take and pass to receive their Initial teacher certification. The new performance-based assessments will require teacher candidates to provide evidence of successful teaching (e.g., student artifacts, teaching video, portfolio). The NYS Teaching Standards establish the foundational knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the classroom
Written by Nancy Gort
Last Updated: May 2013
Sources: Common Core State Standards Initiative, EngageNY, Literacy Design Collaborative, Achieve