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CCSS Systems Implementation Guide

Full implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) systems will occur over several years and in the context of a continuous learning process.

  • The Awareness Phase represents an introduction to the CCSS, the initial planning of systems implementation, and establishment of collaborations.
  • The Transition Phase is the concentration on building foundational resources, implementing needs assessments, establishing new professional learning opportunities, and expanding collaborations between all stakeholders.
  • The Implementation Phase expands the new professional learning support, fully aligns curriculum, instruction, and assessments, and effectively integrates these elements across the field.

Each of California’s local educational agencies (LEAs) should have in place its own local plan for CCSS systems implementation based on local needs and resources.  The California Department of Education fully recognizes and supports the idea that there are many different ways to approach the challenges of transforming our standards-based system, and expects that local implementation plans and strategies will be as diverse as the state itself.

This online CCSS systems implementation guide was developed to support local plan development and refinement, and can also support LEAs developing or updating their Local Control Accountability Plans, specifically with State Priority 2. It includes numerous suggestions and resources organized by the seven guiding strategies of the CCSS Systems Implementation Plan for California. The guide will be updated regularly as new resources become available. To remain apprised of the latest developments in CCSS systems implementation, please subscribe to the CCSS Update Listserv and Smarter Balanced
E-mail Updates

Guiding Strategy 1

Facilitate high quality professional learning opportunities for educators to ensure that every student has access to teachers who are prepared to teach to the levels of rigor and depth required by the CCSS.

Suggestions for Local Educational Agencies

  1. Establish structures for regular, ongoing professional learning in your local educational agency (LEA). To learn more about the features of effective professional development, please review:
  1. Utilize professional learning modules available from the California Department of Education (CDE) and Achieve the Core External link opens in new window or tab. to deepen educator understanding of the CCSS.
  1. Utilize Student Achievement Partners' CCSS Instructional Practice Guides External link opens in new window or tab. to learn more about what the CCSS look like in daily planning and practice.
  1. Review the grade level curriculum documents, which are organized by individual grade levels (kindergarten through grade eight), to learn more about transitioning to the CCSS.
  1. Review the many resources on the CDE CCSS Mathematics Resources, CCSS English Language Arts Resources, and CCSS Literacy Resources Web pages to identify additional tools to support the professional learning needs of local educators.
  1. Utilize the CDE Professional Development Opportunities Database to identify CCSS-related learning opportunities in your area, and also contact your local county office of education, institution of higher education, California Subject Matter Project, and professional educator organizations for additional CCSS learning opportunities.
  1. Finally, many instructional leaders have shared that the most valuable professional learning occurs when educators work together to develop curriculum designed to support student attainment of the CCSS. Consider using the resources available in Strategy 2 of this implementation guide to facilitate the development of new CCSS-aligned curriculum in your LEA.

Guiding Strategy 2

Provide CCSS-aligned instructional resources designed to meet the diverse needs of all students.

Suggestions for Local Educational Agencies

  1. Review the instructional materials available on the 2014 Mathematics Instructional Materials Adoption (K–8) list for potential local adoption, and review the 2015 English Language Arts/English Language Development Instructional Materials Adoption (K8) list of materials currently under review by the SBE and scheduled to be adopted November 2015.
  1. Become familiar with the Publisher’s Criteria documents developed by the authors of the CCSS and the Evaluation Criteria adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) to gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics of instructional materials that will support student attainment of the standards.
  1. Review the California Department of Education (CDE) Instructional Materials FAQ for detailed information regarding instructional materials purchases and the Instructional Materials Adoptions Web page for information and guidance concerning local piloting and adoption of instructional materials.
  1. Explore various resources to learn more about acquiring and developing curriculum that will support student attainment of the CCSS:
  1. Become familiar with the resources available from providers listed on the CDE CCSS Resource Clearinghouses Web page.
  1. Learn about the new SBE-adopted English Language Development (ELD) Standards aligned to the CCSS and resources to support implementation of the CCSS and ELD Standards.
  1. Learn more about what the CCSS means for special education on the CDE Common Core Resources for Special Education Web page.
  1. Learn about the Multi-Tiered System of Supports, a framework that aligns Response to Instruction and Intervention with the CCSS and the systems necessary for academic, behavior, and social success.

Guiding Strategy 3

Develop and transition to CCSS-aligned assessment systems to inform instruction, establish priorities for professional learning, and provide tools for accountability.

Suggestions for Local Educational Agencies

  1. Many elements of the statewide assessment system are currently in transition. To receive bimonthly updates on the transition to a new assessment system as well as information regarding the activities of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced), please subscribe to the California Department of Education (CDE) Smarter Balanced e-mail list. To subscribe, please send a blank e-mail to

  2. Review information about California's new statewide student assessment system established by Assembly Bill 484 External link opens in new window or tab. (Bonilla), which was signed into law on October 2, 2013. Visit the CDE Assembly Bill 484 Questions and Answers Web page for more information.
  1. Learn about the Smarter Balanced Assessment System, including the Summative Assessments, Interim Assessments, and the Digital Library of formative tools and practices.
  1. Utilize the Smarter Balanced Practice and Training Test External link opens in new window or tab. to gain experience with the new assessments. 
  1. Review the Smarter Balanced Sample Items and Performance Tasks External link opens in new window or tab.. These tasks illustrate the rigor and complexity of the English language arts (ELA)/Literacy and mathematics items students will encounter on the Smarter Balanced assessments.
  1. Become familiar with the CDE Smarter Balanced Resources Web page. This page includes test blueprints, achievement level descriptors and college content readiness policy, accessibility and accommodation information, presentations, frequently asked questions, and fact sheets.
  1. Visit the CDE CCSS and Special Education Web page to learn more about California’s participation in the National Center and State Collaborative, a collaborative of states that is developing a comprehensive assessment system for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

  1. Visit the Smarter Balanced Technology Web page External link opens in new window or tab. for information about preparing technology resources for computer-based assessments.
  1. Review the Mathematics Framework chapter on assessment (PDF) and the ELA/ELD Framework chapter on assessment (PDF) for information about standards-aligned assessment with an emphasis on formative assessment.

Guiding Strategy 4

Collaborate with parents, guardians, and the early childhood and expanded learning communities to integrate the CCSS into programs and activities beyond the K–12 school setting.

Suggestions for Local Educational Agencies

  1. Utilize existing parent communication structures (e.g., PTA/PTSO meetings, Back to School Nights, school newsletters, LCAP parent engagement meetings) to share resources with parents, families, and the local educational community to promote awareness and understanding of the CCSS and new developments regarding CCSS systems implementation.  A number of documents are available on the Students/Parents tab of the California Department of Education (CDE) CCSS Web page to support your communications with parents and families:
    1. The CDE has produced several informational handouts that provide overviews and highlights of the CCSS and a handout that lists CCSS Resources for Parents and Guardians (DOC). These handouts are available in multiple languages. You can also find a collection of resources and information regarding mathematics on the CDE Mathematics Resources for Parents and Guardians Web page.
    2. The California PTA has made available the Parents' Guide To Student Success External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). You can find this document separated into grade levels and translated into multiple languages and many other resources on the California PTA CCSS External link opens in new window or tab. Web page.
    3. The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), in consultation with the California PTA, has developed a parent handbook External link opens in new window or tab. (DOC) that gives parents an introduction to California's CCSS and a summary of what students are expected to learn as they advance from kindergarten through grade eight. The handbook is available in multiple languages on the CCSESA Common Core Standards Communications Tools External link opens in new window or tab. Web page, under General Overview Materials.
    4. The Council of Great City Schools has developed parent roadmaps for understanding the English language arts External link opens in new window or tab. and mathematics External link opens in new window or tab. CCSS in kindergarten through high school and how parents can support their child's learning. The roadmaps are available in English and Spanish.
    5. The CDE has organized a collection of resources for parents of students in the Special Education community on the parents and students tab of the CDE CCSS and Special Education Web page.
  2. Review and utilize the California Infant/Toddler Learning and Development Foundations (PDF; 2MB), the California Preschool Learning Foundations, and their accompanying curriculum frameworks to inform development and continuous improvement of curriculum and developmentally appropriate CCSS-aligned practices for early childhood education programs.
  1. Review the alignment document that explains how the early learning foundations align with the CCSS and relate to transitional kindergarten (TK) to support developmentally appropriate and CCSS-aligned TK curricula. Find guidance for implementing the CCSS in TK classrooms in the Mathematics Framework TK chapter (PDF) and the ELA/ELD Framework TK–Grade 2 chapter (PDF).

Guiding Strategy 5

Collaborate with the postsecondary and business communities and additional stakeholders to ensure that all students are prepared for success in career and college.

Suggestions for Local Educational Agencies

  1. Ensure that career technical education (CTE) teachers are familiar with and use the newly revised, CCSS-aligned CTE Model Curriculum Standards to promote inter-departmental collaboration in your high school community.
  1. Encourage efforts by teachers to integrate CCSS-aligned academic and CTE content, such as through teacher participation in University of California Curriculum Integration Institutes External link opens in new window or tab., to foster the development of new college preparatory courses.
  1. Invite business leaders, chamber of commerce members, and individuals from postsecondary institutions to informational meetings regarding the relationship of the CCSS  to career and college readiness. A number of materials to support this work are available on the Higher Education and Community Partners tabs on the CDE CCSS Web page.
  1. Leverage existing partnerships established via California Partnership Academies, Linked Learning programs, and CTE pathway programs to engage members of the local business and postsecondary communities in discussions regarding the CCSS.
  1. Leverage existing partnerships established via college preparation programs such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Advancement Via Individual Determination, the Early Assessment Program, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs External link opens in new window or tab., Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement External link opens in new window or tab., and the Puente Project External link opens in new window or tab. to engage members of the local business and postsecondary communities in discussions regarding the CCSS.
  1. Support and expand the implementation of high school reform models focused on underachieving or disadvantaged students, such as early college high schools and middle college high schools, which feature a high school operating on a community college campus and an expectation that students enroll in and successfully complete college courses prior to high school graduation. For more information on early college and middle college high school programs, please visit the Foundation for California Community College’s Early College High School Program External link opens in new window or tab., the Middle College National Consortium External link opens in new window or tab., and the California Community College’s Middle College High School Program External link opens in new window or tab. Web pages.
  1. Attend local community meetings and events sponsored by the local chamber, postsecondary institutions, community-based organizations, and organizations that focus on expanding college opportunities for underrepresented students (i.e., socioeconomically disadvantaged students, students of color, English learners, students with disabilities, foster youth) to talk informally about the CCSS.

Guiding Strategy 6

Seek, create, and disseminate resources to support stakeholders as CCSS systems implementation moves forward.

Suggestions for Local Educational Agencies

  1. Review information about the Common Core State Standards Implementation Funds, authorized by Assembly Bill 86, Section 85 (Chapter 48, Statutes of 2013) of the Budget Act of 2013. Review the answer to CCSS Frequently Asked Question #17 for more information about fiscal resources including information about the use of federal funds and the provisions of the Budget Act of 2014.
  1. Prioritize CCSS implementation through the LCAP development process, as implementation of state academic content standards must be addressed as State Priority 2.
  1. Become familiar with the resources available on the CDE CCSS Web pages. Take this short video tour to learn more about how these Web pages are organized.
  1. Review the various funding opportunities currently available on the CDE Funding Web page and subscribe to the CDE Funding and Outside Funding mailing lists to remain apprised of new opportunities as they become available.

Guiding Strategy 7

Design and establish systems of effective communication among stakeholders to continuously identify areas of need and disseminate information.

Suggestions for Local Educational Agencies

  1. Share with stakeholders the CDE Why the CCSS in California? Web page, which includes videos and statements of support for the CCSS in California schools, including a letter from California institutions of higher education.
  1. Utilize the materials in the Explaining the Common Core To Californians Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab. and the Communications Toolkit for California (DOC; 2MB) to learn more about effective messaging and to inform and engage diverse members of your local community regarding the CCSS.
  1. Encourage stakeholders to visit the California Department of Education (CDE) What are the Common Core Standards? Web page to learn more about the CCSS.
  1. Familiarize yourself with resources designed to support stakeholders to learn and promote accurate information about the CCSS:
Questions:   Common Core Team | | 916-319-0490
Last Reviewed: Friday, September 18, 2015

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