From the Desk of the Superintendent of Schools – Information About Common Core for Parents:
1. Why are the CCLS important?
High standards across states will provide teachers, parents and students with a set of clear expectations that are aligned to the expectations of colleges and careers. No matter where students live, they will be provided with knowledge and skills necessary to compete with their peers across the U.S.A. and internationally.
2. What guidance do the CCLS provide to teachers?
They set clear goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills students need in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics at each grade level in order to be prepared for college and careers. It is important to make the distinction: the CCLS is a set of standards; it is not a curriculum. These standards outline broad proficiency goals for students. They do not dictate how teachers teach, but rather what content and skills students should master by the end of each grade level.
Teachers will continue to follow the Archdiocesan-approved curriculum and create lesson plans and craft instruction to the individual needs of their own students.
3. Do the CCLS mandate what textbooks and resources teachers should use?
No. This is not accurate. Catholic schools are not required to use any of the texts or other resources included in the Common Core ELA appendix. Rather, the Archdiocese has equipped our teachers with our own set of resources that are on the same level of complexity, yet ensure age appropriateness and a respect for our Catholic identity. This was done because, while the majority of resources in the Common Core ELA appendix are valuable, there have been examples found in that document we believe are not appropriate for our students. It is worth noting, the CCLS have been adopted by more than 106 dioceses across the nation and endorsed by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).
4. Why are there standards for only ELA and Math?
These two subject areas are the ones that contain the basic skill sets used in all other subject areas. The remaining subjects will be included in the CCLS over the next several years.
5. Has the implementation of the CCLS been challenging?
Yes. While the Archdiocese continues to endorse the merits of the CCLS, the timeline for implementation has been challenging, to say the least. Learning those standards, equipping teachers with sufficient resources (current textbooks are not aligned to the CCLS) and the level of difficulty of the year-end state tests, has created frustration and tension with this initiative. Those issues are being addressed, as we continue to move forward with the implementation of the CCLS.
6. Is Catholic identity being maintained and fostered in our schools?
Yes. Common Core is not a curriculum; rather, it is a set of grade level proficiency standards. And, our Catholic school teachers continue to make decisions regarding what resources they will use to ensure students meet these standards. As an added measure, the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII) was created to provide resources for teachers to use which infuse Catholic teachings and values into classroom instruction. These resources are available at www.cccii-online.org.
7. Are the archdiocesan “interim assessments” tests? Are they factored into student report cards?
No. The archdiocesan interim assessments are a tool to help teachers evaluate their students’ mastery of specific skills, and, in turn, inform instruction. The results of interim assessments provide teachers with an up-to-date “snapshot” of the progress of their class at a certain point in time. They are not tests and results of interim assessments are not included in student report cards.
8. What resources are available for parents to learn more about what the Common Core Standards expect from students?
The NYS Department of Education’s Toolkit for Parents and Families (available at http://www.engageny.org/parent-and-family-resources#toolkit) provides resources that will help parents and families understand the New York State education reform initiatives and how these changes will help better prepare students for college and careers. We encourage parents and families to use these tools in conjunction with resources and information you receive from your child’s school. The NYS Department of Education will continue to develop and expand this toolkit as they receive feedback from educators and families.
9. Do the English Language Arts standards include a required reading list?
No. The CCLS include an appendix that lists sample texts that demonstrate the level of text complexity appropriate for each grade level and compatible with the learning demands set out in the standards. The exemplars of high quality texts at each grade level are provided as recommendations only – they are NOT mandatory. This ensures teachers have the freedom and flexibility to make their own decisions about what books are appropriate to use, while providing an excellent reference point when selecting their texts.