The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were created by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Offices with the help of a broad range of stakeholders that included parents, teachers, and community leaders. They were not part of a federal government project. The Standards are based on the best national and international Standards for English Language Arts and Math for students in K-12. These Standards were written to address the knowledge and skills necessary for graduating high school students to succeed in college and in their careers.
No, the Common Core Standards are not a curriculum. They define a progression of skills from Grades K-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. However, several groups, including participating states, are developing model lessons for the Standards, and these lessons can be found on various state websites.
Teachers should look at the links in the section called "The Standards" 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.
Many Learning A-Z resources currently being used can and should be used to teach the skills targeted by the Common Core State Standards. These resources are especially helpful where there are known deficits, such as in the area of reading informational text, close reading skills, and writing in response to reading. In addition, Learning A-Z's Professional Development team is available to help schools implement Learning A-Z resources. Their assistance includes helping teachers use the available resources needed to teach these Standards.
Assessments designed to measure student performance on the Common Core Standards Assessment was 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 participating in the Common Core standards will decide which consortium they will join, and by 2015, all students in these states are taking these new Common Core-based tests. States can choose, however, to use their own versions of high-stakes assessments.
Since the consortium assessments measure student learning of the Common Core 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 toward these learning goals 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 tools they need to assess students, provide them with the appropriate resources, and then monitor their progress.
Learning A-Z resources provide broad subject matter coverage, including science, social studies, math, and the arts. These resources are often multileveled and are accompanied by lessons and ancillary materials that support teaching the standard found in the CCSS and other state-specific standards. Most resources can be projected to the whole class or small groups and come with interactive tools.
The books found on Reading A-Z, Raz-Kids, and Science A-Z are available in digital format and can be accessed on computers, tablets, and other mobile devices. Learning A-Z's eBooks come with a set of tools and recording features to allow students to interact with the text through highlighting, note taking, reflection, and recording, all of which leads to a deeper understanding.
Writing A-Z's online writing tools develop writing skills called for in new ELA standards. Students can create and publish their own books and compositions with separate writing tools, and learn process writing skills through online lessons detailed at developmentally appropriate levels.