- Getting Started with CCSS

Need a quick summary of what is important to know about the Common Core State Standards and the transition to said standards?  I attempted to put together the most important links as we look to transition to the CCSS.  Enjoy!

 According to the introduction of the CCSS: "These Standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step. It is time for states to work together to build on lessons learned from two decades of standards based reforms. It is time to recognize that these standards are not just promises to our children, but promises we intend to keep."

  • The standards (PDF) - Link to the site that lists all of the standards in detail.  The introductions to each section are extremely important to read.  It is not just fluff!  It is important to point out that the CCSS contain content standards organized by grade for grades K-8 and by conceptual categories for high school.  Key curriculum changes can be found here, but mainly all students should be through the first part of algebra in 8th grade and high school courses should "call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges...  The high school standards emphasize mathematical modeling, the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, understand them better, and improve decisions."  A common theme that runs through all of the CCSS is that students from K-12 should be working to show certain mathematical practices.  There is a list of practice standards that run through all of the grade levels and it is a great place to start in the transition.  The last set of papers that is included in the CCSS document is a list of Pathways for high school.  These describe how the standards could be broken down to courses in a traditional sequence (Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2) and in an integrated sequence (Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3.)  There is currently a debate going on whether the state of Illinois is going to determine the pathway for every district in the state or whether it will be up to each individual district.  (They need to decide very soon as it is holding up the development of new courses at the high school level.)  Achieve has also created an implementation workbook that could be helpful.  
  • Assessments and Resources - Two different groups are writing assessment instruments for the CCSS.  Smarter Balanced and PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) are the two different groups and Illinois is a governing state in the PARCC group.  States could decide to be a part of both groups but governing states are a part of only one group.  According to the site, "many of the PARCC states are on the leading edge of education reform, including 10 of the 12 winning Race to the Top states."  Right now, sample items are not available, but they will be soon.  It looks like there will be two end of the year assessments that will be summative in nature.  There will be a PBA (performance-based assessment) and an EOY (end-of-year assessment.)  Some optional formative assessments will be available as well, but it is unclear who would pay for these.  The other part of PARCC's resources include the Model Content Frameworks that serve as a bridge between the CCSS and the assessments.  This document is so important as it gives key advances from grade to grade, fluency expectations and culminating standards, major within-grade dependencies, connections among standards, examples of opportunities for in-depth focus, and ways to connect the content to the mathematical practices.
  • Tools for the CCSS - This page is attempting to gather as many resources together for teaching the standards.  One of the most important areas of the site has a link to the Progression documents.  These show how a skills or domain should progress from grade to grade and focus on the K-8 experience.  It will be important for high school teachers to understand how these progressions go, but it is extremely important for K-8 teachers as it will help students to see the connections between the content they are studying.  Another important tool is the Illustrative Mathematics site.  According to the creator, it will provide "flexible display of the standards, with the hierarchy expanding or collapsing at a click, and the K–8 standards viewable both by grade level and by domain. Over the next few months we will be adding illustrative tasks and problems linked to the standards."  Inside Mathematics is a great professional resource for educators and it includes videos of the lessons in practice.  I am very excited about the Mathematics Assessment Project that is attempting to bring together assessment tasks and activities that are connected to the content and practice standards.  I am also a big Dan Meyer fan.  He has a blog and puts together activities for students that help students learn to problem solve.  They are naturally curious and motivated by the activities.  NCTM has a site with great lessons called illuminations.  Some states are doing a great job putting together professional development modules and resources.  They include Indiana, which just came out with a great Powerpoint which speaks to building more awareness of the mathematical practices and shares some ideas for implementation, Ohio which has some great K-8 resources, and others!
  • Educator Skills - There are some important skills and strategies that educators need to teach the standards the way they were designed to be taught.  Educators will need to be team collaborators as most schools are moving to a PLT structure.  In these teams, common formative assessments need to drive our instruction.  Bloom's Taxonomy still should be used as well as PBL (Dan Meyer's activities work great) and DI.  Students falling behind and not keeping up with their peers should go through a system called RtI.