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Frequently Asked Questions



Common Core Standards

Information regarding Common Core Standards by grade level in English and Mathematics.


Visit Common Core webpage for more details on the standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions:  Click on the questions to go to the answers.

What are educational standards?
Educational standards help ensure children have the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in life.  States have traditionally developed their own set of standards.

What exactly are Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?
Common Core is considered a newer version of the traditional academic standards most people are accustomed to.  The initiative is based on putting learning in a “real-world” setting.  Deemed “tougher standards,” the aim is to teach students to reach more deeply in the learning process, emphasizing depth over breadth.  The emphasis is less on rote memorization, but more on understanding and application of concepts.  The same standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

With all the recent state budget issues, why is California making the change to these new standards?
The state firmly believes it must move forward now so that all children can receive a world-class education that is consistent statewide.  In utilizing these standards, the state views these sweeping changes as the foundation for remodeling our education system.  California plans to spend $1 billion to help schools implement the Common Core transition.

Are the Common Core State Standards just a fancy way of presenting a new type of curricula?
No, they are not.  But the initiative does set shared expectations and goals for K-12 education that strongly emphasizes depth over breadth.  A major point of emphasis is requiring fewer topics to be covered but in a much deeper manner.

How will CCSS differ from the older, more traditional standards?
The new standards set forth for grades K-12 are meant to be utilized consistently across all states that have adopted them.  This will help provide students, teachers and parents with a clear set of expectations aligned to meet expectations outlined for success in college and the working world.

Specifically, what will be the immediate focus of Common Core?
Presently, English/Language Arts and math are the two prime areas of focus for CCSS.  Science standards will be added within the next few years.

How will English and Language Arts be taught differently?
In this area, the new standards will place more focus on reading.  Students will be required to comprehend and analyze more sophisticated reading selections. This approach will also include more frequent writing assignments, particularly in courses such as science, history and social science.  The hope is to improve writing and communication skills across all subjects taught.

What will be the focus of CCSS math instruction?
Real-world problem solving skills will be the main emphasis.  Students will be asked to evaluate information at a deeper level, and to more fully apply critical thinking skills, rather than to just memorize equations and facts.  Students will be challenged to go “deeper” into the materials presented in class. 

Why are the Common Core State Standards focused on English and math?
These are the two prime areas where students build skills that are regularly used in other subject areas.  English and math are also the two most frequently assessed subject areas.

What academic changes should I expect to see in my child as a result of the CCSS initiative?
The new standards aim to vastly improve the writing and math skills of all children.  In doing so, this will help students to be far more prepared for SAT and ACT college entrance exams. 

As a parent, will I recognize the differences in the way teachers will now teach?
Yes.  Under the CCSS initiative, teachers are no longer simply considered purveyors of information, but rather facilitators.  As stated previously, critical thinking is considered a huge component of CCSS.

Will there be tests based on the Common Core Standards?
Yes.  All states that adopted the new standards are collaboratively working on developing common assessments that will be aligned to the new standards and will replace existing testing.  These tests will be conducted using technology, or electronic means.

Are these the tests that are referred to as “Smarter Balanced Assessment?”
Yes.  These tests will be given to students in grades 3-8 and grade 11.  These new tests will be given on computers using technology, which will allow adaptive technology to increase or decrease the complexity of questions based on a students’ previous answer.

How were Common Core State Standards developed?
Common Core was developed using a variety of scholarly research, including, but not limited to: surveys focusing on skills necessary for success in college and the working world, assessment data, comparisons to standards gathered from other high-achieving nations, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) frameworks in reading and writing and a multitude of other studies.

Were teachers involved in the CCSS developmental process?
Yes.  Teachers from all across the nation played a large role in the development of the new standards.  Teacher representation included the following:  National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

What role did the federal government play in the development and implementation of Common Core State Standards?
While the nation’s goal is to provide the most high quality education for all children, the federal government had NO role in the development of these standards, nor will the government have any part in implementing them.  Common Core is state-led effort that is not in any way connected to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program.

What are some of the challenges facing educators and parents in implementing the new Common Core State Standards?
Any change of this magnitude in the educational process comes with a multitude of challenges. Some of the issues to address include providing enough technology (getting an electronic device into the hands of every student), providing ongoing staff development for all teachers, and an assortment of adjustments to the learning curve for both students and teachers.