First, a bit about the standards themselves. The CCSS initiative is aimed at creating a consistent platform for educational expectations across the country. It is not, however, emergent from the Federal government. Rather, it stems from the work of the Governors' Association and that of State School Superintendents. Until now, because the standards movement resulted in wildly different standards in equally diverse states, one has only a triangulated method of comparing data from state to state. The initiative's mission statement is here:
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
At Riverdale, we are approaching this work as an opportunity to examine current practice, align to the new standards, and to keep our focus directed toward providing deep, rich, context-relevant learning opportunities for children. Here I am talking about the experiences like the 3rd grade Egyptian study, the 8th grade mock trial of the Dred Scott case, and our field studies programs across the board.
More literally, we have spent hours determining a draft of which of the English Language Arts standards are "priority standards" at each grade level, checking for continuity in the student experience, as well as in the way our classrooms and instructional maps are organized. ELA includes the sub-topics (each of which has a number of standards at each grade level): Reading Informational Text (10), Reading Literature (10), Writing (10), Speaking & Listening (6), and Language (6). Standards for science, technology, and social studies will follow, as well as mathematics. It is quite a bit of work, to be sure, but the level of conversation emerging from these discussions is exciting. As we continue this work I will be able to share and publish our documents -- it is very healthy for this work to be completed transparently.
In the coming weeks I will be writing more and more about how the new curriculum standards will impact the state testing in which we participate each year, how it interfaces with parallel work on our Continuous Improvement Plan and District Literacy Plan, and how the curriculum redevelopment will inform the move to multiage classrooms.