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With recent legislation—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—that replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB), many are still wondering what implications ESSA has for state standards, specifically for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In a recent blog post, Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University, posed this very question, to which David P. Some advocates have tried to pretend that there were no mandates to adopt Common Core, but in the same breath point with glee to how many states adopted Common Core in order to secure a waiver from the broken NCLB or a grant under Race to the Top. States are completely, totally, 100 percent free to set their standards on their own and relegate the Common Core State Standards to history, if they choose. States have to have “challenging State academic standards.” This requirement has been in effect since at least the 1994 Improving America’s Schools Act. The Secretary cannot require a state to add to or delete from its standards, or interfere with state standards, as dictated by section 1111(e)(1)(B)(ii) in the new law. Under ESSA, state standards have to be aligned so that the end point of the state standards in k-12 is aligned with the entrance requirements for the public system of higher education and career and technical state standards.
Common Core advocates saying that this “locks in” Common Core are the equivalent of the rooster taking credit for the rising of the sun.
What Congress eliminated were the mandates in the waivers, the incentives in the Race to the Top (and we didn’t authorize the Department to do something like Race to the Top again), and any other method of coercing or incentivizing the adoption of Common Core standards or any particular set of standards deemed “acceptable” by Washington bureaucrats. The law is clear – no officer or employee of the federal government can mandate, direct, or control a state’s standards, or condition or incentivize the receipt of any grant, contract, or cooperative agreement on the adoption of Common Core State Standards, as described in section 8526A of the new law. From Chairman Alexander’s perspective this is exactly what he set out to do: restore responsibility to state and local leaders what to do about educational decisions. Many of you are probably familiar with the work of Leslie Texas and Tammy Jones, authors of the series Strategies for Common Core Mathematics: Implementing the Standards for Mathematical Practice. The books span work across every grade, but I found a simple infographic that sums up and maps out many of the instructional shifts highlighted by Texas and Jones.
The main purpose of this infographic is to provide a quick, at-a-glance map of the general concepts in the Common Core math standards across grades K-12, and it does a great job. This parent’s frustration is understandable, but could easily be resolved if they learned the simple—albeit more involved—math strategy at play here. The problem is that schools have done a poor job of communicating the purpose of these strategies, and explaining that one of the central purposes of the Common Core is to help students develop efficient strategies for understanding and solving problems. The Common Core, by contrast, relies on problem-solving strategies that help students grasp underlying math principles as they develop efficient strategies that can be applied to both simple and complex math, and shows teachers how to help students meet the Common Core Standards for math. Even a year or two into Common Core implementation, confusion remains over what the standards require and how they ought to impact curriculum design.
One of the biggest sources of confusion when it comes to compliance has been the appendices that accompany the standards. A number of people have gotten in touch with me recently about Appendix A, so I wanted to clarify something about its role. There was a thread about this on my blog 3 years ago, and there is a forum on the topic here. Appendix A was provided as a proof of concept, showing one possible way of arranging the high school standards into courses.
Note that the courses outlined in the Model Content Frameworks were informed by, but are not identical to, previous drafts of this document and Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards. Furthermore, there are plenty of states not using either the PARCC of SMARTER Balanced assessments.
I don’t make a habit of talking about work on the Common Core Blog, but a case study came across my desk yesterday that I felt I had to share, especially with those of my readers who work in high-percentage ELL districts.
The case study goes over the great work being done in Rialto Unified School District—a district with a student population of nearly 30% ELL—to refine the implementation of the Common Core Standards. Preparing educators and students to meet the more rigorous demands of the Common Core is a tall task for any school system—but in Rialto, California, where more than half the city’s population is Hispanic and about 27 percent of the school district’s 26,500 students are English language learners, it’s even more so. The Common Core State Standards call for students to analyze complex texts, make arguments based on evidence they find in the text, and discuss their mathematical thinking, among other activities. As the Rialto Unified School District readied for the shift to the Common Core, administrators at the district’s 28 schools began working with teachers to articulate the changes they wanted to see from instruction. For help in creating a common framework, Rialto USD turned to School Improvement Network, a professional learning provider for educators. School Improvement Network aided district leaders in identifying high-impact instructional strategies that would prepare students effectively for the rigor of the Common Core. Rialto’s partnership with School Improvement Network has “really helped us to focus on the activities that will have the biggest impact across the district,” Curtis said. To begin the alignment process, district leaders gathered at the School Improvement Network headquarters in Midvale, Utah, for a two-day leadership “boot camp.” During this session, they explored their vision and goals for the district, and they created a framework for the instructional strategies they would focus on to achieve Common Core success. Working with School Improvement Network specialists, Rialto USD leaders decided they would focus on core strategies such as close and critical reading, accountable talk, and sentence frames in the elementary grades. Sentence frames give students a framework to explain their thinking, while also exposing them to content vocabulary and providing language support for English language learners.
Once district leaders agreed on the instructional strategies they wanted to focus on, they mapped out an observation framework that principals could use throughout the district. Within each of these areas, district leaders identified the “look-fors” they should see in each classroom. With a common observation framework in place, Rialto USD built its professional development around these strategies and look-fors.
With Edivate, Rialto teachers had access to more than 400 Common Core instructional videos, more than 200 lesson guides aligned with the standards, and a network of hundreds of thousands of educators across the country with whom they could ask questions, share ideas, and exchange lesson plans. Vince Rollins, the principal at Curtis Elementary School in Rialto, kicked off the school year by modeling Edivate’s video library with his staff. The videos have served as a “springboard” into more in-depth, collegial discussions about improving teaching practices, Rollins added—and this has helped transform teaching and learning. Tying all of this together and driving real instructional change in Rialto has been School Improvement Network’s classroom observation tool, Observation 360.
Principals and other instructional leaders use this powerful online platform to record their observations and then analyze this information, looking for areas that need improvement.
For instance, looking at the data revealed that students in Rialto had access to a variety of texts—but they weren’t going deep enough in their analysis of these materials. If Rialto USD did not have access to Observation 360, “then everything would just be a feeling,” Curtis added.
Referring to the district’s transition to the new standards, she concluded: “We knew we had one shot to get it right.
As we’ve discussed before, the end of the 2014-2015 school year marks a significant milestone for the Common Core State Standards. But regardless of how much money you’re receiving for the Common Core, funding alone won’t guarantee results. I’ve outline four steps below—tips and “look fors” to help you make the wisest investments with your Common Core funds so you can be sure your spending has a significant and lasting positive impact on your school or district’s Common Core implementation.
It’s one thing to describe to your teachers what Common Core implementation looks like in the classroom, but it’s far more powerful to show them.
But how many of our PLCs are leveraging the power of collaboration to integrate the Common Core? Kim Cooper is one of the many Delaware math teachers adapting her current lessons to align with the Common Core Standards.
Kim’s math instructional coach, Mellissa Kansak, and her principal, LouAnn Hudson, play important roles in Kim’s teacher effectiveness cycle.
At the Pre-observation Common Core PLC, Kim’s team uses the Delaware state curriculum crosswalks to determine where the Common Core matches up with the existing curriculum. One example of a change in the standards in this particular lesson is that Common Core focuses on linear and nonlinear equations, while in-depth coverage of quadratics is pushed to high school.


Instead of covering quadratic functions in-depth, the PLC decides to introduce the vocabulary for high school. The Common Core PLC then plans the instructional activity that comprises the main chunk of the lesson and discusses the assessment of learning. When Kim gives this lesson in her classroom, members of her PLC will observe and assist where necessary. One thing that stood out to me is how well-organized and in-depth their work is, with the Common Core PLC built around the observation process. I’d love hear what you think about how this PLC was designed, and how they executed the integration of their math lesson. This means that by fall of 2015, the vast majority of educators in the US will have at least one year of Common Core implementation under their belts, along with assessment scores to show for it. Put simply, all the people in your life—teachers, colleagues, parents of students, school board member, etc.—who oppose the Common Core will have a lot more ammunition.
Second, as we’ve discussed frequently in this blog, there are good reasons to believe that if you work hard, work smart, and stay the course, things will get better very soon.
Third, there are fantastic resources out there to help you (like the ones you’ll find on every page of this blog, for example). For example, Jeb Bush (yes that Jeb Bush) and his Foundation for Excellence in Education will soon be offering online courses focusing on how to promote the idea that the standards are necessary for national security, why data collection is essential, and how to win over parents, teachers, and citizens in the education reform conversation.
Whether you agree with his politics or not, I’m sure you’ll find much of the advice helpful in turning around perceptions and creating buy-in for the Common Core among your stakeholders. Jeb Bush Offering Online Courses Promoting Common Core read the article about the upcoming courses.
These Common Core Writing Rubrics help teachers in all subject areas identify and score good writing, bad writing, and everything in between. The Common Core Literacy Standards aren’t getting nearly as much ink as the math and ELA standards, which is a pity—they’ll affect almost every teacher in America. These rubrics establish performance benchmarks for argument, informational, and narrative writing. For more ideas on how to implement the Common Core Standards in your school or classroom, check out the links under the “Blog Topics” bar on the right-hand side of your screen. In our last blog post, we wrote about author and education expert Jay McTighe’s advice for designing rich performance tasks that can prepare students more effectively for the rigor of Common Core assessments.
In this post, we’ll share his list of nine criteria for judging whether a Common Core-aligned performance task you’ve created is of high quality. Requires extended thinking—not just a simple answer (levels 3 or 4 in Webb’s Depth of Knowledge framework).
Includes criteria or rubrics targeting distinct traits of understanding and successful performance—that is, these criteria don’t simply focus on the surface features of a product or performance. Allows students to demonstrate their understanding or proficiency with some appropriate choice or variety.
In McTighe’s LumiBook, you can find dozens of templates and examples of rich performance tasks that are Common Core-aligned. The webinar is one of thousands of content-rich videos contained in Edivate, School Improvement Network’s on-demand, highly personalized professional learning platform. February 24, 2016 - What Does the Every Student Succeeds Act Mean for Common Core State Standards? This practical one-day course gives you the tools to strengthen your style, connect with your reader and get the results you're after. Anyone who feels they spend too much time writing and re-writing memos, letters, emails, reports or proposals. 779 Share on Facebook Email Print Share on Facebook Print Email A good teacher is someone who not only teaches and focusing on knowledge integration, but is able to make learning fun for the students. To get the goal of learning, the teacher using visual aids such as PowerPoint to teach the children in the classroom. Although, the essay has been defined in a certain variety, the essay is a “prose composition”. With NCLB, there were implicit incentives for states to adopt CCSS, so what about with ESSA? In section 8527(d), there is an explicit prohibition on any federal approval or certification of standards. This seemed like a logical requirement: students and parents expect that when the student leaves high school, the student is then prepared to go on to higher education or career and technical education. Some will keep Common Core (whether admitting to it or trying to rebrand it), some will keep parts of Common Core and make changes in areas, some will completely abandon Common Core and adopt their own system or work together with a smaller group of states to develop something that works for them. States can enter voluntary partnerships to develop and implement standards, but the new law states in section 1111(j) that that Secretary cannot attempt to influence, incentivize, or coerce participation in partnerships or the adoption of the Common Core. For those concerned about Common Core, the responsibility falls to them to keep an eye on what their state decides to do.
If a state decides to move away from Common Core, they don’t have to call Washington and ask permission—they can just do it. This series is widely used and I’ve heard high praise from educators who’ve applied it to help their students meet the Common Core Standards for math. The infographic is adapted directly from the guidebooks and can be found on Routledge’s website (I’ll provide a link to the complete infographic below). As a person who knows more about the intricacies of Common Core policy than he does about the development of each math standard, the first module in the map jumps out to me because it addresses one of the most the controversial aspects of the Common Core—problem-solving strategies in elementary math. Until the Common Core arrived, the “strategies” implemented in math class were efficient in that they produced correct answers quickly (as the “Frustrated Parent” highlights above), but did little to add to students’ understanding of the principles of math or problem solving. The first module in the infographic presents this concept very clearly when it says that, “Elementary students should begin to understand the need for efficient strategies, and they see how problem solving makes use of the structures of mathematics,” and then sets that statement within the context of middle school and high school math problem solving, with an emphasis on analysis and where to “enter” the problem.
Leaders are still asking the question: if we adopt the standards, do we adopt the appendices as well? They illustrate possible approaches to organizing the content of the CCSS into coherent and rigorous courses that lead to college and career readiness.
But Smarter Balanced consortium does not have end of course assessments in high school, leaving states and districts free to arrange high school as they choose. Rialto USD worked with the folks at School Improvement Network (the company I work for) to better align its instructional practices with the Standards.
These skills require a familiarity with academic English that can challenge any student—but especially someone who is still learning the language. The company also helped show Rialto’s teachers how to implement these strategies, and district leaders are using School Improvement Network’s software to understand the strengths, and gaps, in teachers’ instruction so they know where to focus their professional learning efforts. Accountable talk is a learning strategy in which students ask one another about their thinking and build on the responses of others. Their framework addresses six key areas: planning, reading, writing, speaking and listening, math, and the classroom environment. Teachers attended grade-level training in person at the district’s Professional Development Center, while substitute teachers covered their classes.
Rollins showed specific video clips to teachers during staff meetings and had them break into groups to discuss the strategies shown, and teachers also watched the videos on their own during their free time.
Classroom walkthrough data can be linked to student achievement outcomes, so district leaders can see what teachers are doing well and where they need more focus. By this summer, every Common Core compliant state (40 at the most recent count) will have completed at least one year of implementation, including year-end assessments.
It’s an ongoing process that will take years to complete, if you can ever really call it “complete”—and many states know this. In the end, your system’s success will hinge on how well you invest the money you’re given. I’ve put these steps together based on trends we’re seeing here at School Improvement Network; specifically, what’s driving the most Common Core success among our clients and contacts.


It’s hands on, which is why you need hands-on resources that help guide the day-to-day work of your teachers.
Make sure that the Common Core resource you buy provides your teachers standard-by-standard video instruction, letting them watch some of the most talented teachers in the US implement the Common Core in every grade and subject. I’m not talking about addressing the Common Core as a frequent agenda item in learning community meetings. Kim’s PLC uses a continuous improvement cycle that includes frequent PLCs, informal observations, and ongoing , job-embedded professional development to integrate Common Core Standards into each existing lesson plan. The two contribute to her PLC meetings, provide her with job-embedded professional development, and assist her in lesson delivery.
Because of this learning gap, the Common Core PLC must re-examine the “essential question,” or main learning objective, for the lesson. Having aligned the essential question to what the Common Core specified, they then planned the activator, or warm-up activity, for the lesson.
Kim decides to have students draw a T-chart on which they list and identify the characteristics of linear, exponential, and quadratic functions. So we’re able to focus more now on reviewing what the children have learned and extending their knowledge of linear functions. How can we expect to be truly successful if the measures we take to integrate it aren’t equally as robust.
True, there are a few states—Indiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma—that have repealed the Core, and another handful that never adopted it at all, but as of right now 40 states remain Common Core compliant. It also means that for school and district leaders in their first year of implementation, things are about to get even harder. And when I say ammunition, I mean the low Common Core assessment scores you’re nearly guaranteed to see in year one. Every state that has implemented the Common Core thus far has seen significant drops in student assessment scores in year one. States that have been implementing the Core for years are actually seeing really encouraging results.
And if you’re dealing with bad Common Core PR in your school, district, or community, there’s help for that too.
The courses will be designed specifically for policy makers, but I’m willing to bet the curriculum will be of use to education leaders as well.
So don’t think that the Common Core Standards Writing rubrics posted below are just for English instructors. They guide users to score writing performance on a 1-5 scale, 1 being inadequate, 5 being exceptional. There is also a free webinar in which he explains some of the core concepts from his LumiBook. Therefore, teachers must understand how to communicate with them by creating an attractive and stimulating presentations. The Secretary and peer reviewers are strictly prohibited from reviewing the content of state standards, as the State does not have to submit the standards for review or approval, prohibited in section 1111(b)(1)(A) under the new law. I’ve actually posted on this before, but some parents are upset their children are bringing home math work that they themselves struggle to understand. These concepts would be difficult to understand using the more traditional methods of math problem solving that most of us learned in elementary school. To answer this, I’ve hunted down a blog post by Bill McCallum (one of the writers of the Common Core) that once and for all clarifies this point. The high school standards were intentionally not arranged into courses in order to allow flexibility in designing high school courses, and many states and curriculum writers have taken advantage of that flexibility.
States and districts are not expected to adopt these courses as is; rather, they are encouraged to use these pathways and courses as a starting point for developing their own. And although PARCC does have end of course assessments, they do not follow Appendix A exactly. Now, district leaders easily can identify and close key gaps in instruction, leading to greater student success. They cite evidence, ask for clarification, and use the statements they have heard from their classmates to form new ideas. During this training, they learned how to use key strategies for supporting the Common Core.
This is one of the reasons we’re seeing so much state money earmarked specifically for Common Core implementation, a trend I predict will continue into the foreseeable future.
Look for solutions that map out Common Core to the last detail, laying out every individual standard and pairing them with resources that show teachers how to implement.
Make sure the resources you choose provide actionable, Common Core-aligned lesson plans that can be used at a moment’s notice in the classroom. I mean PLCs that are built from the ground up with an eye on tackling one thing and one thing only: making sure the Common Core percolates into every aspect of teaching and learning. It’s teacher and leaders diving into the details of curriculum and instructional design together, and then following up in the classroom and in a subsequent PLC meeting. And despite the desperate hopes of haters, I don’t see that number dipping significantly anytime soon. Your schools are at ground zero of a drastically new way of teaching coupled with a dramatically new way of testing. They’ll march to school board meetings, write their senators, hold rallies, and maybe even call for your job. Sometime between now and 2014 you and most of your colleagues will be asked to apply a version of these to the writing that’s done in your classrooms.
They lay out specific, consistent qualities that characterize good and bad writing in each of these areas.
You will be able to produce reports, proposals, memos, emails and letters that are sharp, persuasive and professional.
You can say that the essay is a type of a prolonged discourse with systematic subject discussion. The topic in the personal essay is being reviewed through the aspect of description along with the personal experience. In California alone this year, Governor Brown has appropriated $1.1 billion from the state’s General Fund for Standards implementation. Look for a resource that makes this possible—that expands your Common Core PLC with an active, online community of other educators, and let your teachers get advice on Common Core implementation from their colleagues all over the US.
Anything you’ve found in your early goes at the Common Core that are contributing to success? The PLC gives everything a final once-over before Kim is ready to use the lesson in her classroom. An essay is a short piece of writing that’s why it has it’s certain limits of disguising one topic. This is type of essay must not reveal any personal relationship or attitude to the chosen or described subject. The main focus of objective or factual essay is being turned to political or scientific theme. This essay must focus on one chosen subject and the author has the ability to write about anything he decides to write about.
Up to this date both language and grammatical devices have greatly contributed to the formality of the essay writing progress.



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