Clinton Public School District
Frequently Asked Questions
The Clinton Public School District believes the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) best position our students to be college and career ready while enabling them to compete with their peers statewide, nationally and globally. The following has been provided to address some of the collective concerns about the Common Core State Standards from the Clinton community.
Are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) federal standards?
No. The CCSS were developed through a state-led initiative spearheaded by governors and state school chiefs. The federal government did not develop the standards.
Are the CCSS a national curriculum for schools?
No. Common Core is not a curriculum. The Clinton Public School District superintendent, assistant superintendent, principals, teachers and others are deciding locally how the standards are met. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.
Are the CCSS federally mandated?
No. The federal government did not require that states adopt the standards. Mississippi, along with 45 other states and the District of Columbia, voluntarily adopted the standards.
Will the CCSS lead to a national test?
There is no current plan for the creation of a national test. The adoption and implementation of the standards is by state choice and Mississippi has chosen as a state to adopt and implement the CCSS. There are two testing consortia currently creating tests for the CCSS. They are PARRC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and Smarter Balance. Mississippi has chosen to join the PARRC consortium along with 19 other states. Mississippi will be able to compare the results of our students taking the PARRC tests with students from the other states in this consortium.
Why is Mississippi transitioning to the CCSS?
Mississippi adopted the CCSS in 2010 because they 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.
Were teachers involved in the creation of the CCSS?
Teachers were a crucial voice in the development of the standards. The CCSS drafting process relied on teachers and experts from across the country. The National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the National Council of Teachers of English, among other organizations, were instrumental in bringing together teachers to provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards; consequently, many of the teachers in the Clinton Public School District belong to one or more of these organizations.
Are the CCSS a curriculum that tells teachers what to teach?
No. CCSS is a set of standards, not a curriculum. Standards are a set of academic goals that outline what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. The CCSS is not a curriculum, which refers to things like textbooks, assignments, etc. Decisions about how to teach each standard and what materials will be taught are still (and will continue to be) left to local school districts.
What grade levels are included in the CCSS?
The CCSS are for grades K-12 in English/Language Arts and Math; however, research from the early childhood and higher education communities also informed the development of the standards.
Why are the CCSS just for English language arts and math?
English/Language Arts and Math were the subjects chosen because they are the areas upon which students build the skill sets used in other subjects.
What do the CCSS mean for students in Clinton?
Clinton students will be held to the same academic standards as their peers in nearly all other states. Through Common Core, there will no longer be Mississippi benchmarks that are lower or less rigorous than the academic standards set by other states. The CCSS will provide clarity and consistency in what is expected of student learning across the country, not just in Clinton, or in Mississippi. Additionally, the CCSS will help provide all students with an equal opportunity for an education, regardless of where they live. The CCSS will not prevent different levels of achievement among students, but they will ensure more consistent exposure to materials and learning experiences through curriculum, instruction and teacher preparation among other supports for student learning.
How complex are the texts suggested by the English/Language Arts standards?
The CCSS create a staircase of increasing text complexity so that students are expected to both develop their skills and apply them to more and more complex texts. Evidence shows that the complexity of texts students are reading today does not match what is demanded in college and the workplace thus creating a gap between what high school students can do and what they need to be able to do. It is important to note that while the CCSS only offers suggested texts, it will still be left to the Clinton Public School District and our teachers to decide what actual texts and materials will be used.
What types of texts are recommended for the English/Language Arts standards?
The CCSS requires certain critical content for all students. In addition to content coverage, the standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. English teachers will still teach their students literature as well as literary non-fiction. However, because college and career readiness overwhelmingly focuses on complex texts outside of literature, these standards also ensure students are being prepared to read, write and research across the curriculum, including in history and science.
Is it true that CCSS do not value fictional or literary text in the English/Language Arts standards?
No. In fact, the CCSS require certain critical content for all students, including: classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s founding documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.
Is it true that teachers are required to spend 70 percent of their time teaching informational text and only 30 percent of their time on fictional or literature text?
No. The 70 percent that is often mentioned refers to the amount of total time students will spend on reading throughout the day in math, science, English, social studies and other content courses, and is a percentage that is currently used throughout many high schools today. English teachers are encouraged to use more short informational texts, such as primary sources that can be found online and in newspapers to surround their reading of a novel, but not to switch their reading to primarily informational text. In fact, students need to primarily read literary texts in English in order to have the 30 percent of their day be fiction reading.
Do the math standards cover all key math topics in the proper sequence?
The mathematical progressions presented in the CCSS are coherent and based on evidence; additionally, they lead to college and career readiness at the internationally competitive level. The use of learning progressions in order to outline goals of curriculum and instruction is a practice commonly used in many countries that perform well on international assessments of academic achievement.
Does moving to CCSS mean a new assessment for the students?
Yes. Better standards call for better assessments. Mississippi is part of a consortium of states, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), working together to develop a set of tests aligned to the CCSS.
What makes CCSS better than other standards?
The CCSS focus on 21st century skills and are aligned to college and workplace expectations. The CCSS emphasize the development of skills — like problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity — that are vital to success in college and today’s workplace. The CCSS reflect the knowledge and skills most valued by employers and higher education.
How were the CCSS developed?
The process was state-led and supported from across the country including the Chief Council of State School Officers, the National Governors Association, Achieve, Inc., ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Hunt Institute, the National Parent Teacher Association, the State Higher Education Executive Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the Business Roundtable. The standards made careful use of a larger growing body of evidence including:
· Findings from Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) and other studies concluding that the traditional US mathematics curriculum must become substantially more coherent and focused in order to improve student achievement.
With more rigorous standards, does this mean we will see a drop in test scores?
Parents, teachers, and students should understand that lower scores will not mean students know less than they did the year before. The new standards require a higher level of mastery of information and concepts and this higher bar may impact scores, at least initially. This often occurs when major systemic change happens. There is a dip in scores for a short period of time until schools are able to incorporate all the changes that are part of the CCSS. As new requirements are established, our scores will rise.
Do the CCSS promote more collaboration between teachers?
Yes. The CCSS are designed to support cross-curricular learning and social studies, history, science, and PE teachers can and should be a part of the effort. Many Clinton teachers already plan across subject areas, but the standards present a great opportunity to collaborate in different classrooms.
CASE 21 is being used throughout CPSD. Is this because of the CCSS?
No. The CASE 21 tests being utilized in the district are benchmark assessments that are developed according to our district’s curriculum pacing guide by the CASE 21 organization to help our teachers and administrators gauge the readiness of students for the end of the year assessments given by the state. These assessments are aligned to the MS Frameworks currently but as we transition to the Common Core State Standards, they will be replaced with assessments aligned to the standards.
As a parent, can I help my child be successful through the CCSS?
Yes. Clinton parents have always played a huge role in helping our students be successful, and the successful implementation of CCSS depends largely on this collaboration with Clinton parents and students. We encourage Clinton parents and community leaders to increase their knowledge of the standards and work with CPSD faculty and staff to ensure fair and successful implementation.
Can I opt out of the CCSS for my child?
No. The CCSS are the standards for learning English/Language Arts and Mathematics in Mississippi. It is not possible to opt your child out of learning these two key subjects that are central to the education of every child.