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Common Core In Evergreen Public Schools

What are the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) outline grade level goals in math and English Language Arts (ELA) for all K-12 students. The goals are designed to prepare students for the advanced literacy skills needed for college, career success and to compete in the global economy. The CCSS communicate what is expected of students at each grade level. Until now every state had different learning standards. CCSS bring consistency among districts and states, and increase the rigor of the learning goals.

Common standards allow for collaboration among states on best practices and professional development. The standards are the result of a state-led initiative overseen by organizations of the nation's governors and state education commissioners. Hundreds of teachers, education researchers, mathematicians, and other experts across the country collaborated in developing the CCSS. A final version of the CCSS was released in June 2010. Evergreen Public Schools is currently transitioning to these new standards. In Washington public schools, these new standards will be assessed beginning in the spring of 2015. Nearly all states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS.

The Common Core State Standards have been developed to be:

  • Clearly focused on fewer and higher standards;
  • Aligned with college and career expectations, so that all students are prepared for success upon graduating from high school;
  • Inclusive of rigorous content and applications of knowledge through higher-order skills;
  • Internationally benchmarked, so that all students are prepared for succeeding in our global economy and society; and
  • Research and evidence-based.

A common set of standards ensures that all students, no matter where they live, will be focused on graduating from high school prepared for postsecondary education and careers. In an increasingly mobile society, families with children transferring to new schools will not have to adjust to new learning expectations. Standards will be the same for all students in states adopting the CCSS, making transitions smoother for students.

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 study. More focus allows students to apply what they are learning to real-world math problems.
  • Coherence: Content is based on learning progressions across grade levels and within each grade. Students build understanding on prior mastery and carefully connect their learning within and across grades.
  • Rigor: Rigor does not mean it is harder – it means we teach and assess the elements of conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and real-world application with equal balance/intensity in time, activities and resources. In building mathematics proficiency, students need to understand the math concepts (vs. just how to get the answer), perform the procedures with fluency (speed and accuracy), and apply math to real world situations. All three elements are important in developing deep understanding, and each requires specific classroom experiences. 

Major Shifts in English Language Arts

  • Building Knowledge Through Content-Rich Non-Fiction:  Students will build knowledge through a balance of literary and informational texts. At the secondary level, this balance will lean more toward interacting with informational texts across a student’s entire school experience in multiple content areas. Students should receive support for close reading of informational texts in science, social studies, and other technical subjects. In English classrooms students will read closely literary non-fiction in addition to works of literature.
  • Reading, Writing, and Speaking Grounded in Evidence from Text:  Students will read closely a variety of literary and informational texts, answering text-based questions designed to elicit deeper levels of thinking about central ideas or themes. Students will articulate their thinking through speaking or writing, using reasoning grounded in text evidence. As students progress into the secondary level, they will learn to develop more sophisticated arguments in their writing and speaking, informed by the analysis of a variety of complex texts.
  • Regular Practice with Complex Texts:  It is critical that students read appropriately complex texts, and that these texts—whether informational or literary—increase in complexity as students progress through each grade level. Students will learn how to read closely: This includes determining central ideas and themes, how ideas and characters are developed, and how the structure of the text impacts meaning. Reading complex texts supports vocabulary acquisition and the skill of determining how authors use language to impact meaning and purpose.

How will the CCSS be assessed?

Washington's students will take the new Smarter Balanced exams during the 2014-15 school year. The assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and are designed to test conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and application as well as higher level thinking skills. The tests will be given on computers, and will be adaptive, meaning the test will automatically adjust its level of rigor for each question based on how each student answers the questions. To take a Smarter Balanced Practice Test, follow this link: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/pilot-test/

Learn more about CCSS


Contact Assistant Superintendent Christopher McMurray by email at: christopher.mcmurray@evergreenps.org or telephone at (360) 604-4012.