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CCSS FAQs

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Background

  1. What are academic content standards?

    Standards-based education guides the content that students should master in each grade and shapes curriculum development at every grade level. Teachers and local school officials, in collaboration with families and community partners, use these standards to help students achieve academic success. Although the standards are intended to provide objectives for students and teachers, decisions about classroom instruction are generally made at the local level by the teacher, local administrator, and/or the locally-elected school board.

    California's standards have been hailed for their rigor, setting high expectations for all students. Starting in 1997, California has adopted content standards in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, history-social science, science, visual and performing arts, health, world language, physical education, school library standards, and career technical education. California also has standards in English language development (ELD), which outline the stages of English proficiency English learners progress through as they become proficient in the English language. All of the content standards are posted in PDF and Word format on the CDE Content Standards Web page.

    All of California's content standards provide detailed expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. The ultimate goal of the education system in California is to ensure that all students have access to high-quality curriculum and instruction so they may meet or exceed the knowledge and skills outlined in the State's academic content standards.

  2. How were the Common Core State Standards Developed?

    The development of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) was a voluntary state-led effort coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, with stakeholders from nearly every state in the country contributing to their development. In the fall of 2009, governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states (including California), two territories, and the District of Columbia, committed to developing a set of standards that would help prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in education and careers after high school. The feedback and the review process was integral to the shaping of these new standards, and included educators from kindergarten through grade twelve, postsecondary faculty, curriculum and assessment experts, researchers, national organizations, and community groups.

    The CCSS include standards for mathematics, ELA, and literacy in various content areas for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. More information about the development of the CCSS is available on the Common Core State Standards Initiative External link opens in new window or tab. Web site.

  3. What was California's adoption process?
    In January 2010, Senate Bill 1 from the Fifth Extraordinary Session (SB X5 1) established the Academic Content Standards Commission (ACSC) to develop academic content standards for ELA and mathematics. The ACSC was composed of members appointed by the Governor and the Legislature, the majority of whom were current public school elementary or secondary classroom teachers. The ACSC was authorized to make recommendations to the California State Board of Education (SBE) to approve or disapprove the CCSS, and to supplement those standards with up to 15 percent additional standards. The ACSC met four times in June and July 2010, and provided its recommendations to the SBE on July 15, 2010. The SBE voted unanimously to adopt the recommendations of the ACSC on August 2, 2010. More information about the adoption process is available on the CCSS Adoption Process Web page.
  4. When did the new standards take effect?

    The standards were adopted by the SBE on August 2, 2010. However, it will take several years to implement curriculum, instructional materials, and assessments based on the new standards. During its March 2012 meeting, the SBE voted to present, in partnership with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI), the Common Core State Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California to the Governor and the California State Legislature thereby fulfilling the requirements of California Education Code Section 60605.8(h).

    The plan is a living document that identifies major phases and activities in the implementation of the CCSS throughout California's educational system. The document includes several appendices, including a template organized around the significant milestones of CCSS systems implementation that local educational agencies (LEAs) may use as a starting point for developing their own local plans. In addition, the plan includes information from various professional organizations and stakeholder groups regarding how these organizations can assist LEAs in implementing the CCSS.

    Each of California’s LEAs should develop its own local plan for CCSS systems implementation based on local needs and resources. The CCSS systems implementation plan and the excerpted local CCSS systems implementation plan template are available on the CDE CCSS Web page.

  5. How will the State ensure full and equal implementation of the CCSS in every district?

    The California Education Code (EC) mandates the adopted course of study for grades one through twelve. EC Section 51210 states that the adopted course of study for students in grades one through six shall include instruction in the following areas of study:

    • English, including knowledge of, and appreciation for, literature and the language, as well as the skills of speaking, reading, listening, spelling, handwriting, and composition.
    • Mathematics, including concepts, operational skills, and problem solving.
    • Social sciences, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instruction shall provide a foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government of California and the United States of America; the development of the American economic system, including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; the relations of persons to their human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations; contemporary issues; and the wise use of natural resources.
    • Science, including the biological and physical aspects, with emphasis on the processes of experimental inquiry and on the place of humans in ecological systems.
    • Visual and performing arts, including instruction in the subjects of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
    • Health, including instruction in the principles and practices of individual, family, and community health.
    • Physical education, with emphasis on physical activities for pupils that may be conducive to health and vigor of body and mind, for a total period of time of not less than 200 minutes each 10 school days, exclusive of recesses and the lunch period.
    • Other studies that may be prescribed by the governing board.

    Every school in California is required to provide instruction in the subjects named above, although physical education is the only subject that has statutorily required minutes of instruction. The schedule of the instructional day and week is determined by the teacher and the local school and district administration.

    California is supporting local implementation of the CCSS through resources available to all LEAs, many of which are noted in the Common Core State Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California. While implementation of specific academic content standards is a local decision and not specifically mandated by EC, California strongly recommends their local use. Statewide assessments which are mandated by EC are based upon California’s adopted academic content standards. Per EC Section 52060, one of the state priorities that must be addressed in each LEA’s Local Control and Accountability Plan is the implementation of the academic content and performance standards adopted by the SBE. In addition, California has distributed $1.25 billion of Common Core State Standards Implementation Funds to support local implementation of SBE-adopted standards. Local governing boards should consider all of these factors and consult local board policy when making decisions regarding local adoption and implementation of academic standards.

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Professional Learning

  1. Where can I find professional learning resources to support the transition to the CCSS?

    The CDE has made available thirteen professional learning modules (PLMs) to support the implementation of the CCSS. The following PLMs are online and available for teachers to access independently or for schools or districts to use as facilitated professional learning. The PLMs were designed to deepen educators' understanding of the CCSS; instructional strategies to support the learning of all pupils, including English learners, pupils with disabilities, and underperforming pupils; and instructional strategies that promote creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication skills in all academic content areas. The following modules are now available:

    • Overview of the Common Core State Standards for California Educators
    • Mathematics: Kindergarten through Grade Eight Learning Progressions
    • Mathematics: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve Standards for Mathematical Practice
    • English Language Arts: Informational Text—Reading
    • English Language Arts: Writing to Inform, Argue, and Analyze
    • Content Literacy for Technical Subjects
    • Assessment Literacy
    • Content Literacy in History/Social Studies, Kindergarten through Grade Five
    • Content Literacy for Science
    • Content Literacy for History/Social Studies, Grade Six through Twelve 
    • Getting Started with the California English Language Development Standards
    • MTSS: A Framework for Implementation of the CA CCSS
    • A Deeper Dive into the CA ELD Standards

    The modules are located on the Digital Chalkboard External link opens in new window or tab. Web site (formally Brokers of Expertise). The Digital Chalkboard Web site also offers resources and a platform for questions about the CCSS. More information is available on the Professional Learning Modules for Educators Web page. 

    In addition, the CDE CCSS Web page has links to numerous resources to support professional development and is updated as new resources become available. Educators may also use the searchable database available on the CDE Professional Development Opportunities Web page to locate additional CCSS-related learning opportunities.

  2. Where can I find CCSS resources for teachers of English learners?

    English language development (ELD) standards help guide curriculum, instruction, and assessment for English learners who are developing the English language skills needed to engage successfully with state subject matter standards for college- and career-readiness. The standards were adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) on November 7, 2012. You may review the standards on the CDE English Language Development Standards Web page.

    The revised curriculum framework for English language arts (ELA), adopted by the SBE on July 9, 2014, incorporates guidance for implementing the new CA ELD Standards. You can review the ELA/ELD Framework on the ELA Curriculum Frameworks Web page.

    You can also find resources to support the teaching of the CCSS with the CA ELD Standards on the CCSS and ELD Standards Resources Web page.

    The San Diego County Office of Education, in collaboration with the CDE and Council of Chief State School Officers, has developed a linguistically augmented Spanish version of the CCSS for ELA and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. A link to the electronic version of the document is available on the CDE CCSS Web page. The Spanish version of the CCSS for Mathematics is currently in development.

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Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Materials

  1. When will new curriculum frameworks in mathematics and English language arts/English language development be published?

    The State Board of Education (SBE) adopted a new mathematics framework on November 6, 2013 and a new ELA/ELD framework on July 9, 2014. For more information, please visit the Curriculum Frameworks – Mathematics and Curriculum Frameworks – English/Language Arts Web pages.

  2. When will new instructional materials reflecting the CCSS be adopted?

    The SBE adopted a list of kindergarten through grade eight mathematics instructional materials, including Algebra I and Mathematics I, on January 15, 2014. More information is available on the CDE Mathematics Instructional Materials Web page.

    In addition, Senate Bill 201 (Chapter 478 of the Statutes of 2013), has allowed the SBE to adopt instructional materials that are aligned to both CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy and the CA ELD Standards by November 2015. More information is available on the CDE English Language Arts Instructional Materials Web page.

  3. How much time will school districts have to buy the new instructional materials?

    The requirement that instructional materials be purchased within 24 months of SBE adoption (for kindergarten through grade eight) or local governing board action (for grades nine through twelve) has been repealed by the Legislature. Districts no longer have to purchase new instructional materials within a specific time frame.

  4. How do the new standards affect the instructional materials sufficiency requirement?

    Current statute (EC Section 60119) specifically requires that instructional materials be aligned to the either the standards adopted pursuant to EC Section 60605 (i.e., the standards adopted in 1997 and 1998) or to those adopted pursuant to EC Section 60605.8 (i.e. the California Common Core State Standards). Districts should follow the requirements of EC Section 60119 as outlined in the CDE Instructional Materials FAQ.

  5. Can districts supplement their existing materials rather than adopting new programs aligned to the CCSS?

    In 2012, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) invited publishers of instructional materials to submit supplemental instructional materials that bridge the gap between programs currently being used by local educational agencies and the CCSS. Teachers and content experts recruited by the SSPI and the SBE reviewed the materials for alignment to the CCSS, and the CDE has posted on its Web site a list of supplemental instructional materials designed to bridge the gap between existing programs and the CCSS. You may download the Final Report on the 2012 Supplemental Instructional Materials Review (DOC).

    Additionally, reviews of English language development supplemental materials were conducted in 2013. Information regarding these reviews, including a review of supplemental ELD materials, is available on the CDE Supplemental Instructional Materials Review Web page.

    Educators may also use the supplemental instructional materials review evaluation criteria for grades K–8 to identify the CCSS that current materials do not support and use resources from the library, internet, and primary source documents to develop lessons that address them.

  6. What if an LEA did not adopt the 2007 mathematics or 2008 reading/language arts instructional materials? Can they bridge their materials to the CCSS?

    The last adoption of academic content standards for mathematics and English language arts (ELA) was in 1997. Instructional materials adopted by the SBE since that time are all based on these standards. One category of supplemental instructional materials that was reviewed by the CDE was based upon a subset of CCSS which was selected to supplement not the 2007 adopted mathematics materials and 2008 adopted ELA materials but rather the 1997 standards themselves. These materials can be used to bridge the gap between older materials and the CCSS. Additional information is available on the CDE Supplemental Instructional Materials Review Web page.

  7. Where can I learn more about instructional materials?

    The CDE has recently revised its comprehensive list of FAQs regarding instructional materials to reflect recent changes to Education Code. Please visit the CDE Instructional Materials FAQ Web Page for more information.

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Assessment

  1. Will there be new CCSS-aligned assessments?

    Yes. In June, 2011, California joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) as a governing state. Smarter Balanced is a consortium of 23 states that have been working collaboratively to develop a student assessment system aligned to the CCSS. The new assessments will be fully implemented by the 2014–15 school year, with pilot testing in 2012–13, and field testing in 2013–14. Additional information about the consortium, including extensive FAQs, is available on the CDE Smarter Balanced Web page and at the Smarter Balanced External link opens in new window or tab. Web site.

    Guiding Strategy 3 of the Common Core State Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California provides information regarding California’s participation in Smarter Balanced and details specific work and benchmarks. The section “Suggestions and Opportunities for LEAs” recommends numerous ways in which districts may begin to prepare for the new, future assessments—of which perhaps the most important is to sign up for the CDE Smarter Balanced Web page listserv in order to receive the latest information.

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Resources

  1. What resources are available to support local implementation of the CCSS?

    The CDE CCSS Web page has links to numerous resources designed to support the transition to the CCSS and is updated as new resources become available. The CDE has also developed an online CCSS implementation guide to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) in local plan development. It includes numerous suggestions and resources organized by the seven guiding strategies of the CCSS Systems Implementation Plan for California. The Common Core Systems Implementation Guide will be updated regularly as new resources become available.

    Common Core Search is an online searchable database that permits stakeholders at all phases of implementation to easily access the high-quality resources they need to support local implementation efforts. The database allows users to employ filters and a keyword search to quickly find the resources they are seeking. Common Core Search currently offers hundreds of resources that have been reviewed for quality. More resources will be added as they become available.

  2. What funding is available to support local implementation of the CCSS?
    • Education trailer bill Assembly Bill 86 (Chapter 48, Statutes of 2013) provides for the apportionment of funds to support statewide implementation of the CCSS. The CCSS implementation funds may be expended for any of the following purposes:
      • Professional development for teachers, administrators, and paraprofessional educators or other classified employees involved in the direct instruction of pupils that is aligned to the academic content standards.
      • Instructional materials aligned to the academic content standards.
      • Integration of the academic content standards through technology-based instruction, including expenditures necessary to support the administration of computer-based assessments.
    • More information regarding the apportionment and expenditure of these funds, including frequently asked questions, is available on the CDE Common Core State Standards Implementation Funds Web page.
    • In addition to unrestricted general funds, LEAs may utilize Title I, Part A and Title II, Part A funds for CCSS-related professional learning provided that they supplement the use of other state and local funds available for professional learning activities, including Common Core State Standards Implementation Funds and Local Control Funding Formula appropriations.

      Title I, Part A funds may also be used to purchase supplemental instructional materials to address more effectively CCSS implementation. It is important to distinguish core materials from supplemental materials for which Title I, Part A would be an allowable funding source. All CCSS aligned materials approved by the State Board of Education should be considered core instructional materials to be funded from state and local funds. LEAs that use Title I, Part A to purchase supplemental instructional materials for CCSS implementation should be able to document that they are mapped to the CCSS and have research supporting their effectiveness in meeting the academic needs of students at risk of not meeting the standards.

      If you have any questions regarding the allowable uses of federal funding to support CCSS implementation, please contact the Title I Monitoring and Support Office by phone at 916-319-0854 or by e-mail at TIMSO@cde.ca.gov.
    • The Budget Act of 2014 appropriates $400,500,000 from the General Fund to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for allocation to school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. The provisions of the bill require any allocations made to first satisfy any outstanding claims for reimbursement of state-mandated local program costs, and authorizes the Controller to audit any claims and reduce any amounts owed, as provided. The bill provides that funds received may be expended for any one-time purpose, but states the Legislature’s intent that school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools use the funds for professional development, instructional materials, technology infrastructure, and any other investments necessary to support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, the implementation of English language development standards, and the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. For more information about the Budget Act of 2014 provisions, please visit the CDE Education Budget Web page.

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Career and College Readiness

  1. How will the CCSS affect institutions of higher education? Will there be an alignment of admission/graduation requirements or placement exams to the CCSS?

    The CDE continues to work with stakeholders to ensure that the K–12 community, the higher education community, and business communities have a common agreement upon the definition of career and college readiness that includes the CCSS for mathematics and English language arts. Further, the CDE has ensured that the higher education community has an advisory role in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) and in determining student readiness for credit bearing courses in the freshman year of college. The CDE will continue to work with postsecondary and career experts to ensure that the Smarter Balanced assessments show depth of knowledge and critical thinking skills, use items/questions that mirror real life, and reflect the thinking required in career and college.

    Additionally, the CDE will collaborate with the University of California, Office of the President, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges to facilitate the alignment of accreditations and A–G course requirements to the CCSS.

  2. How will the CCSS be integrated into Career Technical Education curriculum?

    Education Code Section 51226 provides legal authority to develop the Career Technical Education (CTE) standards and framework. The original CTE Model Curriculum Standards were adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) on May 11, 2005. The standards, written for grades seven through twelve, specify learning goals in 58 career pathways organized around 15 industry sectors.

    The California State Plan for CTE, A BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE 2008–2012, approved by the SBE in May 2008, provides guidance for CTE programs in California. The State Plan states, “CTE programs are dynamic; curricula need to stay current with rapid changes in the workplace, requiring ongoing updates and learning on the part of CTE faculty.” The adoption of the CCSS furthered the need to revise and align the CTE Standards with this new academic core.

    Commencing in May 2011, 117 individuals representing secondary and post-secondary education, business, and industry met to review the 2005 standards and make recommendations for improvement. Following the May 2011 meeting, industry sector meetings were held to develop the revised CTE standards based on the recommendations. Subsequently, the revised CTE Standards were shared with the general public for review, comment, and suggestions. Once the CTE Standards were revised, academic and CTE teachers collaborated on the alignment with the CCSS, Next Generation Science Standards Disciplinary Core Ideas, and the History/Social Science Standards. The revised CTE Model Curriculum Standards were adopted by the SBE on January 16, 2013. You may review the standards on the CDE CTE Model Curriculum Standards Web page.

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Technology

  1. What technology do districts need to implement the CCSS?

    It is important to remember that the role of technology in implementing the CCSS goes beyond the administration of online assessments. The CCSS include many standards that can be supported by technology. Whenever appropriate, the use of technology should be integrated into teaching and learning to provide students with the experiences they need to be prepared for success in career and college.

    Information about the technology requirements for the CCSS-aligned Smarter Balanced assessments may be found on the Smarter Balanced Assessment System Web page.

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Questions:   Common Core Team | commoncoreteam@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0490