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Information: Common Core Q&A

Find the answers to some common questions – including several Florida-specific question – on Common Core State Standards.

Q.What are Common Core State Standards?

Common Core State Standards are a state-led effort to establish clear, world-class educational standards for English language arts and mathematics that states can voluntarily adopt. More than 45 states have adopted Common Core State Standards in these two subjects. In 2009, Florida adopted Common Core State Standards.

Common Core State Standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter college or the workforce, and that parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

Q.Who created the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative involved governors and state education commissioners from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia. Common Core State Standards have been designed by a diverse group of teachers, experts, parents and school administrators.

Teachers have been a critical voice in developing the standards. The National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), among other organizations, have been instrumental in bringing together teachers to provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards.

Q.When will Common Core State Standards be used in classrooms?

In the 2014-15 school year, schools in grades K-12 will use Common Core State Standards.

Q.Why is it important that we have Common Core State Standards?

Common Core State Standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that American students are prepared to be competitive with students from other countries. In today’s economy our students will have to compete in a global marketplace against students from China, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Most of the top jobs in America today did not even exist a decade ago. These new standards will help us maintain America’s competitive edge, ensuring that all our students are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete with their peers at home and abroad.

Q.How are Common Core State Standards different from current state standards?

Here are several examples of how Common Core State Standards for English language arts are different than Florida’s current standards.

Current Florida Standards Common Core State Standards
Require students to identify the letter sounds for MOST letters of the alphabet. Require kindergarten students to identify the letter sounds for ALL letters of the alphabet, including both long and short vowel sounds for a, e, i, o and u.
Require students to be able to retell a story, and describe the characters and the setting of the story. Require students to compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
8th Grade
Students are required to read similar topics by different authors, but are not required to look for anything in particular. Requires students to identify where the authors’ information differs from one another and to determine whether the differences are facts or author interpretation.
10th Grade
Require students to write a persuasive essay and use evidence to support the claim, but are vague regarding how to support the claim and how to tie the entire paper together. Require students to organize their paper in a specific format, explain how to develop evidence for and against their argument and how to give an objective perspective to the paper. The Common Core State Standards will require students to use an appropriate style for the audience and to tie everything together in a logical, smooth way.
Increased Expectations through Types of Texts Expected to Be Read Aloud at Specific Grade Levels
Sarah, Plain and Tall is a story that was typically read at the fourth grade level; the Common Core expect second and third grade students to be able to read this story with deep understanding.
Casey at the Bat, a popular children’s poem, is typically read in middle school, but will now be read in upper elementary levels.
The “Letter on Thomas Jefferson,” typically read at the high school level, will now be read at the middle school level.
IA Doll’s House is a play that was typically read in eleventh or twelfth grade, will be read in ninth or tenth.

Q.When will schools begin testing Common Core State Standards?

Schools will begin testing to Common Core State Standards in 2014-15.

Q.When will Florida begin testing Common Core State Standards?

Florida’s schools will begin testing Common Core State Standards in 2014-15, but Florida’s students will be well-positioned for this change because of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.

Basically, Florida is taking a step toward Common Core State Standards now so our students will be even better prepared when 2014-15 arrives and the majority of the nation enacts the new Common Core State Standards.

Q.What are education standards?

Standards define what students should know in certain subjects from grades K-12. Education standards provide teachers, students and parents clear goals for student learning. By having standards, we ensure teachers know what they need to teach to help every student be successful.

Q.Why do we need standards?

We need standards so our teachers know what material they need to teach each year. We need standards to ensure that all students, regardless of where they go to school, are prepared for success after high school. Standards help guide teachers in the classroom; they help teachers build their lesson plans around a set of core concepts.

Q.What changed on this year’s annual assessment writing test?

Since 1992, Florida’s writing test was simply an essay. Students were scored on a scale of 1 to 6, and the “rubric” or scoring system was based upon things like: Does the student present a main idea? Does the student use multiple arguments to present his or her main idea? Does the student’s essay have a conclusion that restates the main idea?

Students’ essays were not scored based upon spelling, vocabulary, correct punctuation or grammar. In other words, a student could have a very high writing score even when submitting an essay filled with misspelled words and incorrect grammar. This year, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and grammar are included in how students’ essays are scored. Additionally, scorers look at whether or not students made logical supporting statements in their essays, not just that students made multiple supporting statements.

The new method for scoring FCAT Writing will ensure Florida’s students are better prepared for success in college or in a career.