The Common Core Learning Standards and Assessments

Beginning next Tuesday, April 16, our students in grades 3-8 will begin taking their state assessment exams in ELA. One week later, they will do the same in math. This is the first time that our students will be tested on the Common Core Learning Standards

Some people may still wonder exactly what is meant by the Common Core. These standards were adopted by the State Education Department to ensure that every high school graduate is college or career ready. A college-and career-ready graduate will possess the knowledge and skills that will ensure that he or she is successful in the 2020s and beyond. These include problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, communication, collaboration and leadership.

The new assessments based on the standards will include an Increase in Rigor - Many of the questions on the Common Core assessments are more advanced and complex than those found on prior assessments. 

Secondly, the assessments Focus on Text – To answer ELA questions correctly, students will need to read and analyze each passage completely and closely, and be prepared to carefully consider responses to multiple choice and short answer questions. Students will need to answer questions with evidence gathered from their understanding of rigorous literature and informational texts. 

Third, Depth of Math – Students will be expected to understand math conceptually, use prerequisite skills with grade-level math facts, and solve math problems rooted in the real-world, deciding for themselves which formulas and tools to use.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) allow states across the nation to share a common definition of readiness at each grade level; if students are to graduate high school fully prepared, they must meet the benchmarks set by the Common Core – at every grade and in every classroom. It is to these benchmarks that we must now teach. It is student mastery of these benchmarks that we must now assess.

As far as the forthcoming 2012-13 Grades 3-8 Assessments, the Commissioner of Education, John King, has asked that we inform our school communities of the following:

o Since this is the first time that New York State will be reporting student grade-level expectations against a trajectory of college-and career-readiness as measured by tests fully reflective of the Common Core, the number of students who score at or above grade level expectations will likely decrease.

o The number of students meeting or exceeding Common Core grade-level expectations should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or as a decline in educator performance. Instead, the results from these new assessments will give educators, parents, policymakers, and the public a more realistic picture of where students are on their path to being well prepared for the world that awaits them after they graduate from high school.

o It is important to note that no new districts or schools will be identified as a district in crisis based on the 2012-13 assessment results. In other words, a lower performance by some students on some tests will not act as an indicator that our schools are in trouble or are not meeting our annual yearly progress.

o Teacher performance ratings will not be adversely affected by the anticipated drop in student scores. That is, teacher growth scores on their APPR will result in similar proportions of educators being rated effective or highly effective as compared to last year. 

o The Common Core Toolkit for Parents and Families is a collection of materials and resources ( that will help parents and families understand the Common Core itself and New York State.