For success, change in instructional practice and focus must accompany implementation of the CCSS. This is a huge endeavor that should be considered a marathon not a sprint. By starting now to build on existing practice that is common core aligned and working hard over the next several years to use the CCSS lens to transform all instruction, all students will have access to instruction that teaches the CCSS principles with fidelity, thus ensuring that all students are prepared when the new assessment based on the common core is in place in the spring of 2015.
One of the most important needs in implementing the common core is to repurpose existing resources and curricular materials to support the teaching of common core principles in the classroom. This module will be continually updated as new samples and sources of instructional materials and curricular maps become available. It should be noted that the CCSS does not and never did mandate a single curriculum [how the standards are taught]. This is a decision and responsibility of local school districts in Idaho.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made possible the creation of sample units and curricular maps. For each grade level, sample instructional units, including specific alignment to standards, student objectives, suggested texts, and sample activities and assessments are provided.
Bringing the Common Core to Life
An engaging demonstration of two lesson plans aligned to the CCSS? "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and "Gettysburg Address" by co-author David Coleman; Q & A follows. Audience: ELA teachers, 6-12 (75 minutes).
Additional exemplars are available at this Engage New York site.
Writing instruction and assessment are key elements of the CCSS. Writing is best taught and assessed in performance events where students create authentic, whole pieces of writing meant to communicate to specific audiences for many purposes in all content areas.
To achieve this they must writer routinely for longer and shorter time periods for a range of tasks, purposes and audiences. Learning to score student work using rubrics, or sets of rules, allows for teachers and students to have a common language around learning and offers a platform for instruction, regardless of the discipline. In fact, the common core emphasizes literacy and writing as integral to all disciplines, not just confined to English class. Idaho's Direct Writing Assessment is one such performance assessment that allows for student work to be placed on a developmental continuum. What needs to be added to most existing writing performance assessments to be in sync with the CCSS are complex texts about which students can compose. Still, to move away from more rote measurements such as multiple choice, and toward authentic, active writing and creating that students take ownership of is a step in the right direction and is needed in all disciplines.
One such assessment that already infuses multiple texts or listening pieces, both literary and informational, in reading/writing performance tasks is the New York Regents High School Comprehensive Examination. At the link below are many examples of released items of past administrations. There are annotated anchor responses or guide papers with each test form.
The State of Illinois employs an excellent multi-trait scoring rubric that was originally created by teachers as an instructional tool. This developmental scale includes discrete scoring on a 6-point scale for Focus, Support/Elaboration, and Organization. Conventions is scored on a 3-point a scale. The relative strength and weakness of these traits is considered when the overall holistic score, Integration, is scored. This sample book from 2008 provides a number of annotated sample responses along with the grade level rubrics for each mode of writing. Because it provides discrete scoring of different strands of composition, as white light through a prism creates a rainbow, this system provides an effective platform for instruction and a rubric accessible to students as well as teachers.
The multi feature writing assessment system of ISAT is designed to provide some developmental analysis of writing strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a student may demonstrate a developed understanding of the Focus Feature but an undeveloped understanding of the Organization Feature. In addition to separate scores for Focus, Support, Organization, and Conventions, an overall holistic score for Integration reflects the view that the paper is a total work. All Features except Conventions are evaluated on a 6 point scale, with 6 being the highest score. Scores 1 through 3 are considered undeveloped while scores 4 through 6 are considered developed. In Conventions, a score of 1 is considered undeveloped while a 2 is considered partially developed, a 3 fully developed. The rating of Conventions should not impact the scoring of the other Features unless and until the effect of the errors is such that meaning is severely impacted. In other words, the scoring of ISAT/PSAE is a content based system where scorers look for the meaning of the response. Also, while it is acknowledged that the Features interact with one another, each Feature is treated as discrete as much as possible in scoring. Three types of writing are currently assessed in ISAT depending upon grade level: narrative and persuasive at grades 6 and 8, expository only at grades 3 and 5. Persuasive and expository writing is tested in PSAE. What follows is a brief synopsis of important concepts underlying each Feature. For a full understanding of the scoring system and to demonstrate how the concepts are manifested in student writing, anchor papers that help define the score points should be used in concert with the rubric.
In Focus, the most rule driven or analytical of Features, assessment of student understanding is dominated by three major concepts: sufficiency, maintenance of focus, and the inclusion of introductory and closing material setting purpose. Sufficiency is defined as the number of ideas the writer provides on the given subject. To move up the developmental scale, the writer must increasingly sustain their discussion, making sufficiency a consideration in every Focus decision. In fact, sufficiency is an important concept underpinning decisions in Support and Organization as well. This is not to suggest that more is always better, but recognition that, for example, in order to create a developed focus a student must generate more than a few bare ideas.
The ability to maintain a single focus as opposed to creating a dual focus or otherwise drifting away from subject/purpose [PE] or subject/event [N] is increasingly valued as we move up the developmental scale. In fact, no response with a major focus drift can be considered developed for Focus at any grade level.
The writer's ability to provide an opening statement clearly informing the reader of the subject, purpose, and often the major points of their response is required to move to the highest levels in Focus for P and E. Also, clear closure, of varying degrees of effectiveness depending upon grade level, is required. In PSAE and in Grade 8 P/E, a sophisticated strategy effectively setting subject and purpose along with an effective, unifying closing are required for a 6 in Focus. In the Narrative mode, the writer's ability to provide reactions that relay the significance of the event play a large role in the Focus score. Undeveloped responses provide few reactions that tend to be general as opposed to developed responses where reactions are more numerous, specific, relevant, and more closely integrated with episodes.
The writer's ability to provide specific detail and connect ideas, expanding thoughts that create depth underpins the creation of support and elaboration. As we move up the developmental scale, more movement from vague to specific detail and increased ability to provide depth is required. Evaluation of Support [PE] and Elaboration [N] relies on a holistic consideration of the impact of the total amount of detail provided in terms of quantity and quality.
Organization is defined as the clarity of the logical flow of ideas. This logical flow or progression of ideas is judged based on two principles: coherence and cohesion. Cohesion is the idea to idea connection tying together related thoughts. These connections can come in many forms, such as content linking, transitional words and phrases, and syntactic linking. Coherence is evidence of an overall plan tying together major points in the response. This vertical dimension may be strengthened by inclusion of an overall plan in the opening, by effectively connecting major ideas, or by providing a thematic approach. Evaluation of the Organization Feature is incremental in that increased evidence of cohesion and coherence is required to move up the developmental scale. In the Narrative mode, the key concept is the degree to which a clear narrative progression exists that moves logically through time without noticeable gaps. Regardless of mode, organizational structure moves away from random, list like, repetitive presentations toward well woven, unified presentations at the highest level.
The evaluation of Conventions relies on distinguishing major from minor errors, assessing the impact of errors on communication, judging the density of errors given the length of the response, and the level of sentence fluency. In ISAT scoring, a response receives one of following three designations: a 3 for a developed understanding of convention, a 2 for a partial understanding of conventions, or a 1 for an undeveloped understanding. Since we are considering first draft writing, almost all student work will contain errors. The demand nature of this writing sample should not be forgotten when evaluating Conventions, and the intent is not to parse each error, but rather to notice on a first reading a pattern of problems that affects the progression of thoughts.
The Integration Feature represents a holistic judgment based on balancing the strengths and weaknesses found through all the fundamental Features. This unified approach of evaluating the work as a whole is expressed in gradations of "Development" for grade level. For example, an Integration score of 3 represents a partially developed response, while an Integration score of 6 represents a fully developed response. The core Features of Support and Organization tend to drive the Integration score more so than the more analytically derived Focus score. For example, a response receiving a 5 in Focus and a 3 in both Support and Organization would almost never receive a developed score [4 or higher] in Integration. The reverse case is also true. A response receiving a 3 in Focus and a 4 in both Support and Organization would almost always receive a 4 in Integration.
These sample books contains annotated student responses along with the scoring rubrics for several grade levels and modes of writing.
Purpose: CCSSO's long-standing Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) SCASS created an online tool in summer 2010 to help states compare their current state standards, their enacted curriculum (what teachers are actually teaching in the classroom), and the Common Core State Standards in order to identify their degree of alignment to one another. This alignment tool can be found at http://seconline.wceruw.org/secStandards.asp. For a tutorial on how to use the tool, please visit http://seconline.wceruw.org/secWebHome.htm.
Publisher's criteria for development of instructional materials
Purpose: David Coleman and Sue Pimentel, two authors of the Common Core State Standards, developed these criteria to guide publishers and curriculum developers as they work to ensure alignment with the Common Core State Standards in developing reading materials for the early grades (K-2) and the later grades (3-12). The criteria articulated below concentrate on the most significant elements of the Common Core State Standards for literacy and lay out their implications for aligning materials with the standards. They are intended to direct curriculum developers and publishers to be purposeful and strategic in both what to include and what to exclude in instructional material. By underscoring what matters most in the standards, the criteria illustrate what shifts must take place in the next generation of curricula, including paring away elements that distract or are at odds with the Common Core State Standards. These guidelines are not meant to dictate classroom practice but rather to ensure that teachers receive effective tools.
Creators/Lead Authors: Sue Pimentel and David Coleman, lead CCSS ELA standards writers
Purpose: Provide grade-by-grade parent guides that reflect the Common Core State Standards. Individual guides were created for grades K-8 and two were created for grades 9-12 (one for English language arts/literacy and one for mathematics). Eleven Guides were created in all.
Website: www.PTA.org/paren www.PTA.org/parentsguide State education agencies, school districts, state boards of education, and state/local PTAs may co-brand the Guides. The modifiable Guides are available online at: http://www.globalprinting.com/national-pta/ (Username: pta user, Password: global).
Creators: Common Core State Standards writers
Who to Contact: National PTA at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has released the P21 Common Core Toolkit designed to support state and district education leaders who are implementing Common Core State Standards. The P21 Common Core Toolkit is a brand new resource guide which demonstrates how the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning and CCSSO align and support each other. The P21 Common Core Toolkit shows what aligning P21 skills and CCSS looks like through examples and sample lessons and identifies useful resources for education leaders currently working on CCSS implementation.