• Common Core

    Please go this link for more information: www.ReadyWA.org

    Why do students need the Common Core standards now?

    In the United States, standards for students varied from state to state, so some states had tougher standards. For example, an “A” student in Washington may actually be trailing behind a “C” student in Colorado (or vice versa). Common Core changes that by providing consistent learning expectations for all students no matter where they live, and creating clear goals for what students should know and be able to do at every grade level.

    • Schools and teachers in Washington are starting to use the Common Core now because our state needs to do a better job at preparing students to be college and career ready. Here's why, in part, we need Common Core:

    • Washington has the 12th largest achievement gap in the nation;

    • Less than half of our students graduate from high school ready for college (as measured by SAT and ACT college entrance exams);

    • 50% of students entering college in Washington need remedial classes in math and English to learn things they should have learned in high school; and

    • By 2018, 2 out of every 3 jobs in Washington will require a college degree or certificate.

    Washington is a leader in job creation — but those jobs are going to people educated in other states or other countries. Our kids should have the skills to compete and succeed in our homegrown industries. Raising expectations with the Common Core will help all students, no matter where they live, become better prepared with the skills and knowledge needed to collaborate and compete with their peers in other states and around the world.

    Here’s an overview of the timeline:

    2013-2014: The Common Core standards are fully rolled out to every school district in Washington to set high expectations for every student in math and English language arts.

    2014-2015: The Common Core standards are fully implemented and new exams in math and English language arts are rolled out to better measure student knowledge and establish a baseline for the future.

    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 difficulty. More focus allows students to practice real-world math problems in high school and beyond.

    • Coherence: Common Core asks students to connect back to learning they have previously mastered in order to reinforce concepts.

    • Rigor: Common Core requires a balance of concept mastery, procedural skill and fluency, and real-world application. Although memorization is required, students will also be asked to work beyond memorization and communicate the thinking behind answers.

    Major Shifts in English Language Arts:

    • Include more informational text: Students will still read fiction and literary classics, and will also be asked to read and understand non-fiction informational texts like the Gettysburg Address in English or History class or a scientific article in Biology or Chemistry class. The majority of required reading in college and the workplace is non-fiction informational text, so this change will help prepare students for the next step.

    • Focus on literacy in all content areas: All teachers of specific content areas, such as history or science, are expected to instruct students on how to be master readers in their subject. This is also called “disciplinary literacy.”

    • Expose students to more complex texts: A student’s ability to read complex text determines his/her col­lege readiness more than any other factor.

    • Develop evidence-based, persuasive writing: Students will be able to write in a clear, concise, and compelling manner, just as they will in college and the workplace.

    How do Washington’s former English language arts standards compare with Common Core standards?

    The Fordham study found that our old English language arts state standards are weaker than the Common Core standards. The Common Core English language arts standards (which include reading, writing, and communication) will improve student learning with higher expectations that are aligned to college entrance requirements. They also complement what students are learning in other subjects like social studies and science.

    These standards provide students with more opportunities to build knowledge through content-rich fiction, nonfiction, and informational texts (such as scientific articles or historical documents). Students will use the facts and evidence from the text as the basis for their reading and writing practice, and learn how to understand both complex texts and academic vocabulary.

    If we’re raising learning standards, will the tests be harder, too?

    Initially, yes – but not because students knew less, but because we are expecting more. Some student scores may drop, but Washington has been through this before. When we implemented the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) in the late 1990s, student test scores dropped, but only temporarily. Research shows that when you raise learning expectations, students will work harder to meet them. Common Core sets high learning expectations for all students, and it may take some time for students to meet and exceed them. With the higher, more rigorous Common Core standards, the state will administer better exams that more accurately measure students’ college and career readiness and their progress year by year. Test scores may drop when the new exams are first given, but this information will give us a clearer picture of where students are struggling and how we can better support their preparation for college and life in a competitive global economy.

    Most parents and teachers understand that a drop in test scores is temporary, and that raising learning standards is important for our economy and our children’s future. Nearly 70% of teachers and voters in Washington say they’ll support an initial drop in test scores if it means students will be better prepared for college and career (January 2013 poll of 500 teachers and 500 voters by DHM Research)

    Which new exams will students need to take and when?

    Washington is a leader in the state-led Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which includes teachers, researchers, policymakers, and community groups working together on new exams. These new tests (also called “assessments”) will align with the Common Core standards to better measure what a student is learning and how they progress year by year. The new Smarter Balanced exams will be available during the 2014-15 school year.