Curriculum & Alignment

The Common Core State Standards were designed to meet the requirement that they be (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked.  Key points of the English/Language Arts and Mathematics standards can be found HERE and HERE.  A more detailed description of the English/Language Arts standards, broken down by topic and grade level, can be found HERE and a more detailed description of the mathematics standards, broken down by grade level, can be found HERE


Research & Reading

Variation in Children’s Experience of Kindergarten and the Common Core  - This paper focuses on the structural elements of the kindergarten experience of American children and the new context of the Common Core standards. This paper will consider how differences in the opportunity to learn through publicly funded kindergarten may affect the potential for children to reach a common set of standards across these differences. Specifically, this paper focuses on structural variations in the provision of kindergarten, including length of school day and age of entry, as well as variation in the preparation of kindergarten teachers.

Choosing Blindly: Instructional Materials, Teacher Effectiveness, and the Common Core – The authors argue that if the investment in the Common Core is going to pay off, an empirical link between standards and instructional materials must be provided. They claim that if we do not even know what instructional materials students are using, we will be completely in the dark and unable to discern that the Common Core standards are working in some places and not others in interaction with the materials that are deployed and characteristics of teachers. As a result, they encourage states, with support from the federal government and philanthropic organizations, to collect systematic information on which materials are being used in which schools. (Brookings Institution, April 2012)

Preparing Students for College, Career, and CITIZENSHIP: A California Guide to Align Civic Education and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects – A team of civics educators from the Los Angeles County Office of Education has provided teachers in California with guidance on how to align civics instruction with ELA and literacy instruction. This work is intended to achieve a dual purpose: to provide English-Language Arts teachers a civic education context for improving literacy skills and to provide social studies teachers a pedagogical framework for building literacy competencies needed for civic life. (2011)

Preparation, Placement, Proficiency: Improving Middle Grades Math Performance – This brief contains highlights from the follow-up analysis to Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades: Why Some Schools Do Better. The follow-up analysis used the Gaining Ground data file. In addition, new analyses were conducted of the survey responses of the superintendents, principals and math teachers in the study to identify policies and practices that correlate with higher school achievement in grade 8 math, controlling for key school variables and students’ prior test scores. In May 2011, EdSource released Needed: Careful Evaluation of Alegbra I Placements in Grade 8, a companion to the main report. (EdSource, 2011)

Lining Up: The Relationship Between the Common Core State Standards and Five Sets of Comparison Standards – EPIC designed and conducted this study to determine the extent of correspondence (alignment) between the exit level Common Core standards and each of five sets of existing standards. The sets of standards were selected because they were either identified as exemplary state standards, were explicitly written at the college readiness level, or represented a rigorous instructional program focused on college readiness. The purpose was to see if the Common Core standards cover similar content, how broadly they cover the comparison standards, and how the cognitive challenge level of aligned content matches up. (EPIC, October 2011)

A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness – This document provides an estimate of current student performance on the Common Core State Standards, using ACT college- and career-readiness data. The report offers both instructional and curricular support recommendations, as well as policy considerations for state and federal policymakers that can support teaching and learning of the Common Core. (American College Testing, December 2010)

International Benchmarking: State Education Performance Standards – According to this report, what students are expected to know to reach proficiency levels on exams in some states may be as much as four grade levels below the standards set in the states with the most rigorous assessments. The report makes a case for states, as they collaborate on common standards, to use national and international benchmarking to make cutoff scores more demanding and improve the descriptions of what it means for students to be proficient in reading and math. (Gary Phillips, American Institutes for Research, October 2010)

 The State of State Standards–and the Common Core–in 2010 – This review of state English/language arts and mathematics standards is the latest in a series of Fordham evaluations dating back to 1997. The major findings: (1) Based on Fordham reviewers’ criteria, Common Core standards are clearly superior to those currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states the Common Core is superior in both math and reading. (2) Three jurisdictions boast English language arts standards that are clearly superior to the Common Core. (3) In 11 states plus the District of Columbia the math standards are in the “too close to call” category, meaning that overall they are at least as clear and rigorous as the Common Core standards. State-by-state data are available in the report. (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, July 2010)

Review of the Draft K-12 Common Core Standards – The Fordham Institute’s expert reviewers have analyzed the draft Common Core K-12 education standards according to rigorous criteria. Their analysis lead to a grade of A- for the draft mathematics standards and B for those in English language arts. (Sheila Carmichael, Chester Finn, Gabrielle Martino, Kathleen Porter-Magee, Stephen Wilson and Amber Winkler, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, March 2010)

Stars By Which to Navigate? Scanning National and International Education Standards in 2009 – Draft standards were made public on September 21, 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. In this report, Fordham’s expert reviewers appraised the drafts, which outline college and career readiness standards in reading, writing, math, and speaking/listening. They evaluated the strength of the reading/writing and math frameworks that undergird the NAEP, TIMSS and PISA tests. This reports on their findings. (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, October 2009)

What States are Doing

The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011 – Reviewers evaluated state standards for U.S. history in grades K-12. What they found is discouraging: Twenty-eight states—a majority—deserve D or F grades for their academic standards in this key subject. The average grade across all states is a dismal D. Among the few bright spots, South Carolina earns a straight A for its standards and six other jurisdictions garner A-minuses. A total of 19 states received F. (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, February 2011)

MCPS Curriculum 2.0 -  Montgomery County Public Schools has upgraded its curriculum for kindergarten, first- and second-grade students.  The ’1.0′  curriculum has been strengthened by being based upon the Common Core State Standards.  In addition, the new curriculum blends arts, science, social studies and phyiscal education into the core content areas. See FAQs HERE.

Embracing the Common Core – Helping Students Thrive - A webcast focused on Ohio’s adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), led by key leaders in the movement, including the state superintendent, district superintendents, and a member of the teachers’ union, among others.  The discussion focuses on how and why the Common Core and more rigorous assessments are necessary, the implementation timeline, and challenges and opportunities associated with the new standards and assessments.



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