Dr. Brad Gibson
East Aurora Students Face Tougher Math and English Standards
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative is a State-led effort to establish consistent and clear standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics so that all New York State K-12 students will be prepared for success in today's ever-changing world. The goal of the standards is to apply the most advanced, current thinking on how to prepare young people for success in college and in their future careers, as well as to raise the bar for student achievement from kindergarten through grade twelve. These standards are internationally benchmarked and aligned with college and career readiness expectations.
Unfortunately, young people – even in high-performing schools – are graduating and passing all the required tests, and still require remediation in their post secondary work, which is why the CCSS are anchored in preparing young people for college and career success. For example, most of today's high school students master narrative writing, which includes expressing opinions, beliefs, and personal experiences. That's a form of writing rarely required in the workplace or at college. Because of the type of writing needed in the workplace and college, the English Language Arts Standards put a greater emphasis on writing arguments. And because college and career readiness overwhelmingly focus on complex texts outside of literature, these standards also ensure students are reading, writing. and researching in history and science, in addition to literature. Also, evidence shows that the complexity of texts students are reading today does not match what is demanded in college and the workplace. The Common Core Standards create a staircase of increasing text complexity, so that students are expected to both develop their skills and apply them to more and more complex texts.
In math, the Common Core State Standards require a level of mastery unlike any current system of standards. The Standards commit to teaching mathematics in a real world context. The high school standards set a rigorous definition of college and career readiness not by piling topic upon topic, but by demanding that students develop a depth of understanding and ability to apply mathematics to novel situations, as college students and employees regularly do. The Standards also address a problem identified by the National Mathematics Panel and international benchmarking studies, namely that today's math textbooks are overloaded, fragmented, sometimes incoherent and lacking in presentation of concepts. In the Standards, the mathematical progressions are careful and coherent, which will make it easier to develop better textbooks. Textbooks in high-performing Singapore are not only more focused than U.S. textbooks, they also present the concepts that underline the skills.
Over the next two years, the State Education Department will develop curricula that align with the Common Core State Standards. It will be the task of school districts, such as ours, to begin training on implementation of the State Standards in September 2011. For much more on the Common Core State Standards initiative, I encourage you to visit the website: http://www.corestandards.org/. This website provides supporting information about the process, including a Frequently Asked Questions document.