Common Core State Standards
Have questions? If you're like most teachers, you do! Below are a handful of the most frequently asked questions we've heard, along with a brief response:
What are the Common Core Standards?
The Common Core Standards [CCSS] were created with the help of a broad range of stakeholders that included parents, teachers, and community leaders. The Standards are based on the best national and international Standards for English Language Arts and Math for students in K-12. These Standards define the knowledge and skills necessary for graduating students to succeed in college and careers.
Will the new Standards tell me exactly what to teach during English Language Arts?
No, the Common Core Standards are not curriculum. They define a progression of skills from Grades K through 12 that students should know and master in order to be adequately prepared for college and careers. There are many ways to teach these Standards, meaning there are many approaches that could be used to help students reach these Standards. Therefore, the Standards are more about what students need to know in a general sense and not about how to teach the Standards. Several groups including participating states are, however, developing model lessons for the Standards, and these lessons can be found on various state websites.
What Learning A-Z resources should I use to teach the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts?
Teachers should look at the links found in the section called "The Standards" found on the Common Core Standards Initiative page, in particular "Appendix B: Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks," in order to familiarize themselves with types of resources they could use in their instruction. For those using Reading A-Z, our Common Core Standards correlation tool can be used to connect specific resources with specific Standards. In addition, for samples of how to use specific Reading A-Z resources by grade, be sure to browse our grade-level charts on our Correlation Tools page.
How do I find these resources?
All resources should be looked at through a different lens for the purpose of instruction to reach the Common Core Standards. Many Learning A-Z resources currently being used can and should be used in the implementation of the Common Core. These resources are especially helpful where there are common deficits, such as in the area of informational text. In addition, Learning A-Z's Professional Development team is available to help schools with implementation and their assistance includes the resources needed to reach these Standards.
Are there assessments for the Common Core Standards?
The Common Core Standards Assessment is being developed by two consortia: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). They have obtained federal grants to develop assessment tools, both formative and summative assessment instruments. All states will decide which consortium they will join, and by 2015, all students will be taking these new Common Core-based tests.
What Learning A-Z resources should I use to assess my students on the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts?
Since the consortium assessments will measure student learning of the Standards in more complex and multidimensional ways, it will be important to use classroom assessment tools that will provide feedback on how well students are progressing throughout the year. It will also be important that teachers capture critical evidence of deeper, more complex learning. In other words, content mastery will not be enough. Consideration will have to be given to performance tasks and project-like assignments, for example. Owing to its vast array of books, supporting materials, assessments, and more, Learning A-Z gives teachers the flexibility to assess students, provide them with the appropriate resources, and then monitor their progress.
Does Learning A-Z have resources that will help me teach other subject areas while also targeting the English Language Arts Standards?
There are many examples of how the vast library of resources on Learning A-Z's product websites could be used to help support Common Core Standards. For example, the projectable materials on both Reading A-Z and Science A-Z can be used when teaching younger students the difference between fiction and nonfiction. In addition, there's great power in being able to cluster books on a specific topic for comparison purposes. On Raz-Kids, the online resources can be used to include all students in an activity, to teach how to take notes during a listening activity, to give students experience at test-taking through the online quizzes, and more. On Writing A-Z, teachers can find explicit lessons on writing in the different genres, while on Vocabulary A-Z teachers can create custom assignments for word work. For more details on how Learning A-Z provides resources for reading, writing, and science, be sure to watch our video overviews.
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