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Common Core State Standards Backgrounder


The Common Core State Standards – adopted in California and 44 other states – could help provide equal access to high standards for all students, regardless of their zip code or family background. But if the standards are to fulfill their promise, educators must be given the time, tools, resources and input to get it right. 

Educators support the standards, but are deeply troubled by how they are being implemented.

 As educators, our goal is student learning and we want the best for every student. • The standards emphasize critical thinking and problem solving skills – what students need to succeed in today’s fast-changing world.

 Setting high standards for ALL students – without regard to zip code or family background – can help correct inequities of the current system.

 CTA and California educators supported the adoption of the Common Core State Standards by the State Board of Education in 2010.

 Abandoning the new standards would not help students and would return us to the failed days of No Child Left Behind, when teaching and learning were driven by rote memorization and bubble tests. 

A fast-tracked and chaotic implementation makes no sense.

 Seven out of ten teachers believe the standards are being implemented poorly in their schools. Teachers also report not receiving the support and training they need to teach the new standards.

 More than half of California teachers report that they have not been asked how to implement the standards in their classrooms.

 Standards and curriculum have not been aligned. Educators are teaching the new standards this year, but instructional materials and textbooks are not even available. The Math Frameworks, which provide curricula and instructional guidance, were just approved in November and math textbooks were released this year. The English Language Arts Frameworks have not even been approved and textbooks are expected to be released in 2015.

 The textbooks that have been released are only partially aligned to the new standards.

 Many districts have used implementation money to buy computers for new tests, rather than focusing on instructional support. 

In many states, the implementation has been completely botched. Through efforts led by CTA, parents and others, California is trying to do it differently.

 CTA believes we must separate the standards from the testing. We must get the implementation of the standards right before assessments. Testing should not drive instruction.

 CTA led efforts to include $1.25 billion in the state budget to help local districts implement the new standards.

 Governor Brown and lawmakers approved AB 484, a CTA-supported bill, which eliminated outdated standardized testing this year and provided a year of field testing only on the new standards.

 The law also created a three-year moratorium on using state testing results for accountability purposes. • CTA is providing training and instructional support to teachers on the new standards.

 CTA is helping local chapters bargain educator participation in the implementation of the new standards in their local school districts.

 CTA supported the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives educators, parents and the community the opportunity to set local educational priorities and guide school funding decisions. 

A few commonsense steps to ensure Common Core implementation is on track.

 Establish a review of the standards and make improvements as necessary, taking into account the voices of students, parents, and educators.

 Align standards and curricula – fleshing out the framework with content. Educators must be given time to develop aligned curriculum and lessons, which must include time for collaborating with colleagues and trying out new materials to determine what works and what still needs adjustment.

 Give students and educators what they need to succeed in this changing environment – manageable class sizes; parental involvement; up-to-date books and materials; and time for planning, collaboration, and training.

 Act on lessons learned from No Child Left Behind – assessment should inform teaching and learning, not drive it.

 Engage and listen to educators and classroom practitioners throughout the process. 

There’s too much at stake for our children and our country to risk getting this wrong.

 Educators are committed to student achievement.

 We can’t do it alone – students, parents, school administrators and elected officials must be held accountable as well.

 For the sake of the students who are the future of America, we must provide the time, tools and resources necessary to make the transition to the Common Core State Standards a success.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association