Common Core State Standards
by Patricia Michael, Ass't Superintendent
More than 40 states, including Connecticut, have adopted a new set of curriculum standards for English language arts and mathematics that define expectations for learning from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Called the Common Core, these internationally benchmarked standards are designed to prepare all students for success in college and career, and to guarantee that our students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace. All Connecticut districts are expected to begin revising their academic curricula to reflect the new standards, since Connecticut will participate in a nationally standardized Common Core test by 2015.
The reading standards establish a “staircase” of increasing complexity in what students must be able to read. They also require the progressive development of reading comprehension so that students advancing through the grades are able to gain more from whatever they read. They mandate certain critical types of content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature, and the writings of Shakespeare.
The writing standards emphasize research—both short, focused projects (such as those commonly required in the workplace) and longer term in-depth research. The ability to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence is a cornerstone of the writing standards, with opinion writing—a basic form of argument—extending down into the earliest grades.
The K‐5 math standards emphasize a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and decimals‐‐which help young students build the foundation to successfully apply more demanding math concepts and procedures, and move into applications. The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding, to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels.
The middle school math standards are robust and provide a coherent and rich preparation for high school mathematics. Having built a strong foundation K‐5, students can do hands- on learning in geometry, algebra and probability and statistics. Students who have completed 7th grade and mastered the content and skills through the 7th grade will be well‐ prepared for algebra in grade 8.
The high school math standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically. The high school standards emphasize mathematical modeling, the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, understand them better, and improve decisions.
The district is already working on revising the K-12 language arts, math, social studies and science curricula to reflect the new Common Core Standards. At the same time, Ridgefield’s classroom teachers have already begun to implement the standards by engaging students in rigorous, standards-based tasks through reading and analyzing nonfiction texts and using math to solve complex, real-world problems. Our students will be well prepared both for the 2015 national Common Core tests and for their futures.