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Nov 16, 2018
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Academics: Common Core Learning Standards

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Common Core Standards logoWhat are the Common Core Learning Standards

The Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) are a set of clear guidelines showing what students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 should be able to do in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics. With these standards, students start by learning basic skills in early grades and build up to mastering more difficult skills and concepts — think of the process as moving up a “staircase of knowledge.”

By having common standards, all students across the state — and across the country —should have the opportunity to learn the same skills. In the past, every state had its own set of academic standards, meaning U.S. students were learning different skills and concepts at different rates. The Common Core Standards give all students an equal opportunity to learn at higher levels. In turn, pupils should graduate with a greater chance to succeed in college, careers and life.

Why are Common Core Learning Standards being introduced?

The new standards are designed to better prepare students to tackle college-level courses and gain skills they’ll need in current and future careers. In New York, fewer than 35 percent of students are graduating from school with the skills they need to pass college courses. Employers in the state and nation report that newly hired staff do not have the basic reading, writing and math skills to do their jobs well. Changing these trends means changing the approaches we use to educate our children.

What do these changes mean for our children?

With the new standards, students will be learning skills that are more in-depth, advanced and challenging than the content they learned in the past. These changes are called Common Core “shifts.”


For example, in English Language Arts (ELA), pupils will:

  • Read more non-fiction
  • Learn about the world by reading
  • Read more challenging material
  • Talk about reading using evidence gathered from the material read
  • Learn how to write based on what was read
  • Learn more vocabulary words


In mathematics, students will:

  • Build on content and concepts learned in the previous grade level
  • Spend more time on fewer concepts (i.e., learn in a more in-depth way)
  • Develop speed and accuracy in solving problems
  • Really understand math and how to use it in real-world situations
  • Prove mathematics knowledge by showing step-by-step how problems were solved
  • These skills will be tested for the first time in New York’s upcoming grades 3-8 ELA and math exams


More History & Background on the Common Core Learning Standards

On July 19, 2010, the New York State Board of Regents adopted the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) for English language arts & mathematics as new learning standards for all students in New York State. To date, 45 states have adopted similar Common Core standards. Establishing common education standards throughout the nation ensures that all children---regardless of geography, socioeconomic status, or life history---receive an education that enhances their potential.

In New York State, the CCLS provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so that teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.


More on the Common Core "shifts"

Schools are making 12 major changes or "shifts" in order to truly align their curricular materials and classroom instruction with the Common Core Learning Standards. Six of these shifts occur in English Language Arts (ELA) and six in Mathematics.


What do New York's Common Core Learning Standards look like?

(Adapted from

Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

These standards set requirements not only for English Language Arts (ELA) but also for literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical subjects. Just as students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas, so too must the standards specify the literacy skills and understanding required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines.

The standards also lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century. Indeed, the skills and understandings students are expected to demonstrate have wide applicability outside the classroom or workplace. Students who meet the standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today, both print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic.

In short, students who meet the Standards develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.

At BH-BL, students in the upper grades will likely see the most dramatic shift in focus as the curriculum moves towards a greater emphasis on information literacy. Under the new standards, there is an increased expectation that students can provide text-based responses to questions

Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics

These standards define what students should understand and be able to do in their study of math.

But what does mathematical understanding look like? One hallmark of mathematical understanding is the ability to justify, in a way appropriate to the student’s mathematical maturity, why a particular mathematical statement is true or where a mathematical rule comes from. There is a world of difference between a student who can summon a mnemonic device to expand a product such as (a + b)(x + y) and a student who can explain where the mnemonic comes from. The student who can explain the rule understands the mathematics, and may have a better chance to succeed at a less familiar task such as expanding (a + b + c)(x + y).

Mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important, and both can be assessed using mathematical tasks of sufficient richness.

At BH-BL, students at the elementary level will likely see the most dramatic shift in focus. Students will be expected to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of core content and build upon it from year to year. The district has adopted the elementary "Go Math" program and learning materials because they directly align with the new standards.


When will the new standards be implemented?

Full implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards began in September 2012 at BH-BL. Teams of teachers began meeting in summer 2011 to review and analyze the new standards, and to align the standards to the district's previous curriculum. Teachers and administrators have also been attending various trainings to learn how best to implement the new standards in the classroom.

The CCLS will impact all students K-12. We know that implementing the new standards will be quite a challenge, but it is a challenge worth pursuing. Students in grades K-8 will be assessed by the state on the new standards beginning in the 2012-13 school year.


BH-BL Common Core documents & links to other recommended resources

For Mathematics

  • At BH-BL we are using GoMath textbooks and software for teaching and practicing math skills in grades K-6. You can read more about these on the publisher's website.
  • Parents can use their K-6 child's access code to view GoMath lessons and homework online via the ThinkCentral website.
  • Common Core Math Fluencies: Parents can help their students build mathematical fluency at home by reinforcing these grade-specific math facts and the ability to solve math problems with accuracy and speed.
  • Illustrative Mathematics - Gives parents and students activities to help prepare for Common Core Math
  • Illuminations - Excellent activities and games for teaching and learning math
  • Learn Zillion - Math materials and video instruction
  • Flipbooks for CCLS Math - Great resources for lesson ideas and activities
  • Engage NY Math Toolkit - Many great resources and websites


For English Language Arts & Literacy


General links and resources for parents