Preparing for the Common Core


By Chris Avila
Idaho Mathematics Coordinator

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) offer Idaho educators the opportunity to transform the learning of mathematics around the practice of mathematics. Using the experience they have gained from their time in the classroom, and further informed by the knowledge and skills taught in the Mathematical Thinking for Instruction courses, educators will create a richer, more robust understanding of mathematics concepts and true mathematical competence in their students through the CCSS.

As Idaho prepares to transition to the Common Core State Standards, teachers and administrators have been asking what they can do to be ready to make a successful switch to the new standards. I've put together the following short list of actions educators can begin taking now.

What should districts be doing?

  • Form professional learning communities (grade level and vertical, where possible) to start talking about the standards and how your team can transition
  • Develop an appreciation that the 8 Mathematical Practice Standards are basic skills fundamentally part of the mathematics content
  • Use the "Critical Areas" to:
    • Focus on the big instructional ideas at each grade level
    • Develop an understanding of the learning progressions (vertical teams should use the critical areas as a way to make connections between grades)
    • Begin the process of "repurposing" texts and materials
  • Use Achieve's Model Pathways to support discussion regarding the focus of high school mathematics. The "units" are essentially the same across the two pathways and serve the same purpose as the critical areas for grades K-8
    • One suggested arrangement of the high school standards into courses can be found on the Tools for the Common Core Standards website: .
  • Develop support structures for struggling students (RTI)
  • Watch for learning opportunities and resources on the SDE website, as well as groups such as NCTM, NCSM, AchievetheCore, CommonCoreTools, CCSSO, etc. Be skeptical of easy, quick fixes. We all recognize this will be a process.