December 19, 2011
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils New Publication
to Help Schools Transition to Common Core State Standards
SACRAMENTO—With California schools preparing to move to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that will redefine what students learn, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today the publication of a new book to help teachers and administrators make the transition.
The new hard-copy publication, A Look at Kindergarten Through Grade Six in California Public Schools: Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, provides information for educators on curriculum planning and professional development in the new standards, which were formally adopted last year.
"The new Common Core standards will truly move what California students learn into the 21st century, with an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving," Torlakson said. "That makes it an exciting time in education, but a challenging time as well. We've created this book—and its online counterpart—to give teachers a helping hand."
The new publication includes chapters by grade level. There is an overview of each study area, a summary of what proficient students learned in the previous grade, descriptions about the content area, and the standards. The document also includes a "Support for English Learners" section in both mathematics and English-language arts that identifies a few of the difficulties English learners may face and some recommendations to help them gain access to the curriculum. The publication is a valuable tool until new CCSS frameworks and instructional materials are developed.
Fostering 21st century learning in California's schools is a key goal of Torlakson's, which was outlined in the report by his Transition Advisory Team earlier this year, A Blueprint for Great Schools.
The release of the new publication comes as Torlakson works to ease the transition to the new standards on other fronts as well, including three key pieces of legislation signed into law earlier this year.
Assembly Bill 124 requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the California State Board of Education, to update, revise, and align the English-language development (ELD) standards. In addition, Assembly Bill 250 reinstates the process for the development of curriculum frameworks aligned to the CCSS in English-language arts and mathematics and mandates the inclusion of the new ELD standards in the next English-Language Arts Curriculum Framework. Senate Bill 140 requires the state to develop a list of supplemental instructional materials aligned to the CCSS to bridge the gap between existing state-adopted materials and the CCSS.
CCSS is a voluntary state-led effort to develop a national set of standards for mathematics, English-language arts, and literacy in various content areas for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The effort started in 2009 and is being coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. Participants include 45 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia.
The goal is to prepare all students with a uniform set of knowledge and skills around the nation that they need to succeed in education and careers after high school. The CCSS was adopted by the California State Board of Education on August 2, 2010. However, it will take several years to implement curriculum, instructional materials, and assessments based on the new standards.
The online publication, from which the new hard-copy publication is excerpted, is entitled, A Look at Kindergarten Through Grade Six in California Public Schools. The online resource provides information regarding all areas of study including history–social science, science, physical education, health, visual and performing arts, world languages, school library, as well as English-language arts and mathematics.
The online publication is available through the California Department of Education Web site at Grade Level Curriculum - Curriculum Frameworks & Instructional Materials. The online publication is also included as a CD-ROM with the new hard-copy publication.
To order the hard-copy publication of A Look at Kindergarten through Grade Six in California Public Schools: Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, contact the California Department of Education Press Sales Office at 1-800-995-4099 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100