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Common Core State Standards
 
Oregon is one of 42 states that have adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS fit with Oregon's vision of quality education from birth to college and career. The goal of the CCSS is to prepare students for a successful life after school. These newly adopted standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics offer the opportunity for collaboration and innovation in schools and districts across the state and around the country.
 
The Common Core State Standards are a natural progression for Springfield Public Schools. Many of the goals are similar to what SPS has already been working toward: Every Student a Graduate Prepared for a Bright and Successful Future. SPS aims for students to graduate with the ability to attend college without the need for remedial classes. Common Core is, at its heart, focused on developing critical thinking. During the last several years, much of Springfield Public Schools' focus has been on improving instructional practice, including developing critical thinking in students.
 
What are Common Core State Standards?
 
The Common Core State Standards, or CCSS, are educational standards that define what students in pre-K through 12th grade should know, and be able to do, in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. These consistent standards and clearly defined goals will help all students learn the same skills at the same grade levels no matter where they move within Oregon and 44 other states. These standards are designed to help all students get prepared for college and careers. Here is a fun three-minute video explaining the CCSS:
 
What does this mean for my student's education? 
 
Whether a student stays at one school or moves often, students will be developing the same skills consistently across each grade in each school. These skills are transferable, students can take them wherever they might go. Critical thinking is the focus; students will be using evidence to support their answers whether it be in a science, history or math class. This focus shift means:
  • Rather than expecting students to memorize the answer, students will be taught to find the answer within their textbooks. They will also be taught to explain their answer clearly.
  • This will help level the playing field, as all students will have access to the answer within the text in front of them. This is called "text-based questioning, evidence-based answers."
  • There will be more emphasis on students showing how they came to an answer or reached a conclusion rather than just reciting facts.
  • With CCSS a third-grade student can move from Douglas Gardens Elementary to Guy Lee Elementary (or to a school in Springfield, Missouri), and have a smoother educational transition. Students in one grade who transfer to another school can be confident that they will be addressing the same standards and won't "miss out" on any critical content.
  • It will still be Springfield teachers and principals who decide how the standards are to be met. They will continue to create relevant, engaging lessons and tailor instruction to the individual needs of students in their classrooms.
  • The CCSS asks teachers and students to dig deeper into the core skills and concepts for each grade level. One of the biggest changes will be the amount of training (professional development) our teachers receive. Springfield Public Schools is committed to providing both students and teachers support they need to transition to the Common Core State Standards.
What changes might I notice right away?
  • There will be a shift to more writing in all classes, such as science and math. For example: you might see your student bring home a science assignment that is an essay. You might see a math assignment that requires your student to write how she solved the problems. 
  • There will be a greater focus on reading non-fiction text in classes. For example, your student might read a science article in science class. A math assignment might be reading informational text such as graphs and charts, and gathering and compiling data. In history class your student might be reading a letter from a revolutionary soldier, the text from the Declaration of Independence, and a biography about Thomas Jefferson as he or she studies early America.

Click here to see a summary of the shifts that will be taking place in the classroom.

 What doesn't this mean for my student's education?
  • It does not mean teachers will be told how to teach. CCSS will establish what skills students need to learn, but does not dictate how teachers should teach.
  • It does not mean students will be required to learn at the same rate. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of their students.
  • It does not mean that the federal government will be gathering personal, identifiable information on individual students. CCSS will not change or remove existing protections for student privacy. 

How will the schools test my student to see if he or she meets these standards?

Oregon has adopted the new Smarter Balanced test, designed to test students for skills outlined in the Common Core State Standards, in place of the state’s OAKS tests. Students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 will take the tests for math and English language arts once a year.

Click to read more about the Smarter Balanced test.
 
If you would like more information about how to help support your student at home, click here for step-by-step guides for parents of students K–12. 
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