Initially, teacher teams surveyed a variety of national, state and local standards. Mathematics and English language arts teacher teams also reviewed the Common Core State Standards. When sample test items from the newly developed Next Generation Assessments (new MAP tests) were released in 2012, a greater level of rigor and detail was revealed. Mathematics and English language arts teams revisited the Common Core State Standards to ensure a strong alignment to the district curriculum.
Did R-7 start the most current curriculum review process because of the Common Core State Standards?
No. R-7 has always had a curriculum review and revision process. In 2010, the district committed to an initiative initially focusing on balancing the use of assessments in the classroom. It quickly grew into a comprehensive instructional initiative with four major components: curriculum, assessments, instruction, and student ownership of their learning. The current curriculum review process began in 2011 and spanned 72 courses from 13 subject areas. All curricular areas are addressed and included English language arts and mathematics. Subsequently another phase of courses is under review and revision.
No. The Common Core State Standards do not direct instructional methodology or how to teach. Standards identify what students should know and be able to do to demonstrate their knowledge and skills at specific grade levels. Lee’s Summit R-7 teachers are very skillful in using the many methods and strategies available to them.
The mathematics Common Core State Standards emphasizes conceptual understanding, skill, and fluency. The standards require students to master math concepts earlier in their academic careers. In addition, they require students to understand how to apply math concepts to solve unfamiliar problems. The standards connect learning across grade levels and courses to build on mathematical understanding. Specific shifts include learning math facts and other concepts at earlier ages and moving from “we’ve always done it this way” to a focus on understanding and applying rules to different situations. The underlying assumption of the team that created the Common Core State Standards is that students who can explain their mathematical thinking and why the rules work will be more successful at critical thinking and problem solving.
The English language arts Common Core State Standards require increased critical thinking and analysis skills, designed to equip students with the sophisticated literacy and communication skills necessary for success in the Information Age. Specific shifts include an increased emphasis on reading and analyzing informational/nonfiction texts; the use of more complex reading materials to bridge the gap between K-12 reading and post-secondary reading; argumentative/opinion writing; and the use of text-based evidence to support thinking.