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Superintendent's Message

Common Core Moves Ahead in WCCUSD
January 2015
 
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are logical ‘next steps’ for our schools and we’re vigorously pursuing their implementation. 01 They were developed at the grass-roots level with teachers and educators, state legislatures, school boards and business leaders in collaboration. Everyone had the same goal: ensure that students are prepared academically for future opportunities. It’s estimated that by 2020 (when our current 7th graders will graduate high school) 65% of American jobs will require some post-secondary level education so it’s crucial that we prepare all our students for college and career. Click here for a three minute video overview of CCSS developed by the Council of Great City Schools.

Being college and career ready means that our students have to be able to read, understand and write about reading material that is more challenging in three crucial ways – qualitative, quantitative and determined by the reader and text (see graphic below). For first graders a book like Dr. Suess’ Green Eggs and Ham is more complex than one like Robert Lopshire’s Put Me in the Zoo. By high school students are reading more informational materials and fewer stories. A good example of complex informational text is Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue.

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The standards also call for students to grow their vocabularies through a mix of conversation, direct instruction and reading. Students spend much more time than ever before talking with each other in pairs or small groups about what they’re reading and then writing about it--drawing directly from information in the text.


In mathematics, our teachers are putting a greater emphasis on fewer topics focusing on addition and subtraction in K-2, multiplication and division of whole numbers and fractions at grades 3-5, ratios and proportions as well as early algebra in grades 6-7 with linear algebra and functions in 8th grade. Mathematics is not a list of disconnected topics, tricks, and mnemonics; it is a coherent body of knowledge made up of interconnected topics. So learning is carefully connected across grade levels with the result that students build new understanding onto foundations from prior years.
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Rigor in mathematics is about authentic command of concepts rather than making math harder or introducing topics at earlier grades. Problem solving is a key part of all that our students do at every level. To be mathematically proficient, students learn how to apply math in new and different contexts. Thus, our teachers provide students with more than one way to think through problems to solutions. Efficient problem solving in math requires that students have 04 both speed and accuracy in calculation. Fluency in the basic skills is an important part of the CCSS in math.

Much more about the Common Core State Standards, and how we’re implementing them in WCCUSD, is available on our web site at the link to the Common Core State Standards. This winter, all of our schools will be dedicating special parent nights that are open to the general public to provide more information about the CCSS at individual schools.
 

Bruce Harter

Superintendent

 

To read more, please visit the: Superintendent's Message Archive

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