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Common Core State Standards

Common Core State Standards: Frequently Asked Questions.

List of Questions

Background

  1. What are academic content standards?
  2. How were the Common Core State Standards developed?
  3. What was California’s adoption process?
  4. When do the new standards take effect?
  5. When should teachers begin teaching the Common Core State Standards?
  6. How will the State ensure full and equal implementation of the CCSS in every district?

Professional Learning

  1. Will the CDE provide professional learning modules to support the transition to the CCSS?
  2. What funding can districts utilize for CCSS-related professional learning?
  3. Are there crosswalks to show the differences between the 1997 standards and the CCSS?
  4. Where can I find CCSS resources for teachers of English learners?

Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Materials

  1. When will new curriculum frameworks in mathematics and reading/language arts be published?
  2. When will new instructional materials reflecting the CCSS be adopted?
  3. How much time will school districts have to buy the new instructional materials?
  4. How do the new standards affect the instructional materials sufficiency requirement?
  5. How can educators implement the CCSS without CCSS-aligned instructional materials?
  6. What if an LEA did not adopt the 2007 mathematics or 2008 reading/language arts instructional materials? How will they be able to bridge their materials to the CCSS?
  7. Where can I learn more about instructional materials?

Assessment

  1. Will there be new CCSS-aligned assessments?
  2. Will the new CCSS tests include the additional California-added standards?

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

Technology

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

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 in order that they may meet or exceed the knowledge and skills outlined in the State’s academic content standards.

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  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 Web Site External link opens in new window or tab. .

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  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.

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  4. When do 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.

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  5. When should teachers begin teaching the Common Core State Standards?

    Educators should begin reviewing the CCSS now in order to understand the changes in the standards and what they will need to consider in transitioning to them. 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.

    Two excellent resources with which to begin the transition are A Look at Kindergarten through Grade Six in California Public Schools and A Look at Grades Seven and Eight in California Public Schools, compilations of subject-matter curriculum, including information about transitioning to the CCSS, organized by individual grade levels. CDE on iTunes U also offers many high quality CCSS-related professional learning resources for educators. In addition, California’s county offices of education External link opens in new window or tab. are good sources of information and resources to support the transition to the CCSS.

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  6. 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. Will the CDE provide professional learning modules to support the transition to the CCSS?

    The Curriculum Support and Reform Act of 2011 (AB 250) requires the CDE to oversee the development of professional learning modules (PLMs) designed to support educators in delivering curriculum aligned to CCSS to all pupils. These modules are available online at no cost. Modules are designed for both individual study and group activity, web-based and school-based delivery. Each PLM includes instructional strategies to support all learners including English learners, pupils with disabilities, and underperforming students; as well as instructional strategies that promote creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication skills; the integration of subject area content knowledge; and instructional leadership and coaching. A number of PLMs are currently available and more are in development. More information and links to available modules may be accessed on the CDE 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.

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  2. What funding can districts utilize for CCSS-related professional learning?

    In addition to unrestricted general funds, LEAs may utilize Title II Part A funds for CCSS-related professional learning.

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  3. Are there crosswalks to show the differences between the 1997 standards and the CCSS?

    Yes. The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) has prepared crosswalks between the standards as a resource for the Academic Content Standards Commission and has posted these documents on the SCOE California Academic Content Standards Commission Web page External link opens in new window or tab. . It is important to understand that there is not a direct one-to-one correlation between all standards. Often a new standard may represent concepts previously presented through several standards or vice versa.

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  4. 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. Assembly Bill 124 (Fuentes, Chapter 605, Statutes of 2011), signed into law on October 8, 2011, required the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the SBE, to revise and align the state’s ELD standards by grade level to the state’s English language arts (ELA) standards by November 2012. The design and development of the ELD standards were informed by multiple sources; including focus groups, a panel of experts, public hearings, a public review and comment period, CDE and SBE staff, research, theory, and best practice. The standards were adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) on November 7, 2012. You may review the standards and learn more about the development process on the CDE English Language Development Standards Web page. The next curriculum framework for ELA will include the new ELD standards.

    In addition, the CDE publication A Look at Kindergarten Through Grade Six in California Public Schools (PDF; 5MB) includes sections regarding English learners and the specific CCSS ELA standards that support English language development.

    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 reading/language arts be published?

    Pursuant to the Curriculum Support and Reform Act of 2011 (AB 250), work has begun on the update of the curriculum frameworks in mathematics and ELA. For more information, please visit the Curriculum Frameworks – Mathematics and Curriculum Frameworks – English/Language Arts Web pages.

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

    In 2011, the Governor and State Legislature extended the suspension of State Board of Education (SBE) adoptions of instructional materials until the 2015–16 school year (Education Code Section 60200.7). While the suspension of adoptions ends in July 2015, at this time there is not yet a schedule established in law for the cycle of future adoptions.

    However, in 2012 the Governor and State Legislature enacted AB 1246 (Brownley) which established EC Section 60207 and thereby authorized the SBE to adopt new CCSS-aligned K–8 instructional materials for mathematics no later than March 2014. More information about this scheduled adoption is available on the CDE Mathematics Web page.

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  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 suspended by the Legislature until July 1, 2015. It is not clear what will happen after that date. The original “24 month rule” requirement (EC Section 60422) becomes inoperative on July 1, 2013, and is repealed on January 1, 2014, so if no action is taken by the Legislature this requirement will not take effect.

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

    They do not. Current statute (EC Section 60119) specifically requires that instructional materials be aligned to the standards adopted pursuant to EC Section 60605 (i.e., the standards adopted in 1997 and 1998). Presumably this will be changed as part of the implementation of the CCSS, but until that happens, districts should follow the requirements of EC Section 60119 as outlined in the CDE Instructional Materials FAQ.

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  5. How can educators implement the CCSS without CCSS-aligned instructional materials?

    It will take a number of years to develop new curriculum frameworks and instructional materials aligned to the CCSS. In the interim, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) has 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. In 2012, 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).

    Additional reviews of supplemental materials will be 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.

    The “Suggestions and Opportunities for LEAs” pages and Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California offer numerous suggestions regarding local standards implementation. In addition, links to many free resources to support local implementation efforts are available on the CDE CCSS Web page.

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  6. What if an LEA did not adopt the 2007 mathematics or 2008 reading/language arts instructional materials? How will they be able to 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 being reviewed by the CDE will be based upon a subset of CCSS which will be selected to supplement not the 2007 adopted mathematics materials and 2008 adopted ELA materials but rather the 1997 standards themselves. These materials will bridge the gap between older materials and the CCSS. Additional information is available on the CDE Supplemental Instructional Materials Review Web page.

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  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. California is participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) with a number of other states to prepare a common set of assessments based on the CCSS. The SBAC is developing new assessments that will be fully implemented by the 2014–15 school year, with pilot testing in 2012–13, and field testing in 2013–14. A news release describing California’s involvement with the SBAC was issued on June 9, 2011. Additional information about the consortium, including extensive FAQs, is available on the CDE SBAC Web page and at the SBAC Web site External link opens in new window or tab. .

    Guiding Strategy 3 of the Common Core State Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California provides information regarding California’s participation in the SBAC 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 SBAC Web page listserv in order to receive the latest information.

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  2. Will the new CCSS tests include the additional California-added standards?

    In introducing the CCSS, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers advised that states could adopt up to an additional 15 percent while remaining true to the CCSS; California exercised this option. In addition to adopting the CCSS, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted a number of additional standards the SBE recognized as being important for maintaining the rigor of the 1997 standards. The SBAC assessments will not include these California additions as they will be based solely on the standards shared by all adopting states.

    California Education Code Section 60604.5 required the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) to consult with specific stakeholder groups in developing recommendations for the reauthorization of the statewide pupil assessment system, including a plan for transitioning to a system of high-quality assessments. The law directed the SSPI to report the recommendations to the fiscal and appropriate policy committees of both houses of the Legislature. In January 2013, the SSPI fulfilled this legislative requirement. The SSPI’s recommendations report, and information regarding the process of developing the recommendations, may be found on the CDE Statewide Pupil Assessment 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 (SBAC) 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 SBAC 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.

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  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?

    An online dynamic and interactive technology readiness tool (TRT) to support transitions and implementation has been developed on behalf of the assessment consortia. This tool will help member state and local educational agencies as they evaluate their current technology and infrastructure in terms of readiness to implement the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessment system and identify strategies to update their technology based on gaps identified.

    A gap analysis and determination of readiness has been incorporated into the TRT. The SBAC has released a report titled, Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework & System Requirements Specifications. This report outlines the technology specifications necessary to conduct computer adaptive assessments using the existing technology and infrastructure found in schools and districts and also provides the basis for the gap analysis and determination of readiness to be built into the TRT. A Web link to this report can be found at on the CDE SBAC Web page. .

    More information regarding the TRT, including an extensive set of FAQs, is available on the CDE SBAC Technology Readiness Tool Web page.

    It is important to remember that the role of technology in implementing the CCSS goes beyond the administration of online assessments. 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.

    In terms of instructional materials, the format of materials, whether hardcopy textbook or digital materials, is a local decision. Most SBE-adopted textbooks have a digital alternate format version available. As demand for digital materials increases, publishers will develop these resources further.

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Questions:   Common Core Systems Implementation Office | commoncoreteam@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0490