What is the Common Core State Standards Initiative?
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a joint effort by governors and state education leaders to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English language arts and mathematics, which all states may adopt. The standards were developed by a diverse group of teachers, educational experts, and school administrators to focus on preparation for college and career-readiness. To date, 41 of 50 states have formally adopted the CCSS exactly as written, but may add up to 15 percent more standards in each subject area according to state-specific preferences. The New York State Board of Regents voted in July 2010 to adopt the CCSS. After a period of public review and comment, additional state-specific learning expectations were added to form the NYS P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, officially adopted in January 2011.
Why is the Common Core State Standards Initiative important?
Common core standards will help ensure that students receive a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state. A common set of academic standards for students will help create a common set of rigorous student achievement expectations across the country, as well as provide opportunities for states to pool resources and collaborate on the development of supporting materials and assessments. Common standards will provide a greater opportunity to share experiences and best practices within and across states that will improve our ability to best serve the needs of students.
How are other subject areas affected by the Common Core State Standards?
The Common Core Standards specifically define the knowledge and skills that all students should acquire in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Additionally, the standards also set requirements for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Teachers of these disciplines will be charged with using their subject expertise to help students to develop content-area literacy skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use in multiple disciplines, as required for college and career readiness. Literacy standards in social studies, science, and technical subjects do not replace content standards in those areas, but supplement the learning that is expected.
How are the Standards for Literacy in the content areas different from other English Language Arts Standards?
In order to acquire knowledge in social studies, science, and technical subjects, students must develop reading skills that help them to comprehend the unique structure, syntax, and features of informational and non-fiction text. Most content area textbooks require students to use different strategies for reading and comprehension than when they read literature. When reading literature, for example, students may rely upon the plot, character, dialogue, and setting to draw meaning from the story. When students read non-fiction text, they must apply subject-specific vocabulary and phrases, gather facts and evidence, follow detailed descriptions of events and concepts, evaluate arguments, and synthesize complex information. In social studies, for example, students may be expected to use specific textual clues to analyze, evaluate, and differentiate between primary and secondary sources. In scientific and technical texts, students may be required to follow a precise multi-step procedure or experiment and may be expected to draw information from diagrams and data, making connections to the accompanying text. Because content-area literacy skills are those most likely required for reading and writing in college and workforce training programs, these skills must be fully developed in conjunction with other skills in English Language Arts.