Monday, August 2, 2010

Common Core State Standards: Education Policy Roundtable

Common Core State Standards: Education Policy Roundtable
July 20, 2010, Sacramento

CMC Representatives: Diana Herrington, Kathy Woods

This meeting was hosted by J. O'Connell, CDE and the Council of State Governments (CSG). The meeting was financed by the Gates Foundation.

Background: The CSG supports the work of state governors. They are not a political entity. This Roundtable has been provided in many states to facilitate the conversation around the merits and challenges of adopting the CCSS. The hope was to give legislators and state educational leaders the opportunity to learn about the CCSS and to provide the time to discuss the next steps for the state if the CCSS are adopted. In that vein, the following occurred at the meeting:

The meeting began with brief introductions. Here is a laundry list of organizations in attendance: LAUSD, Fresno USD, Clovis USD, San Francisco USD, CFT, Senator Huff, CATE (Ca Assoc. of Teachers of Eng.), PTA, ACSA, CSBA, CMC, Cal Poly REp, Community College Rep, lots of leg analysts for Assembly and Senate, CTA, CPEC Rep, Curric and Frameworks folks with CDE, Undersecty of Ed, Exec Director of SBE, Chair of ACSC, UC Office of President, CSU Vice Chancellor, Charter School Assoc.

Jack O'Connell welcomed all

Pam Goins, Director of Education Policy with CSG facilitated the meeting

Chris Cross, with James B. Hunt, Jr Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy gave the background on the development of the CCSS. The most important point he made is that the CCSS came about from the state governors and state Chief Officers of Education as a need to address problematic issues in our nation - mile wide inch deep standards, lack of coordination between states, lack of preparedness for the 21st Century, and teacher/parent input that education would be better served by common standards among the states. The mantra was, "fewer, clearer, higher" as the standards were developed. The effort by the governors followed the work of national professional organizations with content specific standards. The CCSS are a result of state (48) initiative - not the Obama Administration. The Obama Administration has accelerated their adoption by states with the gift of funds - ARRA Funding (RTTT). As of July 20 am, the state of NY had adopted the CCSS becoming the 26th state to do so - Mass was expected to follow suite soon.

California has joined the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) Consortium for the development of common assessments for common standards in grades K-8. Florida is the Procurement Manager State, 26 states in the Consortium are identified as Governing States. The rest of the states - Ca included - are participating. These two levels seem to indicate the kind of input the state has in the process. CA can still choose to become a Governing State member.

There are two other assessment consortiums that will develop the High School common assessments for the high school common standards.

All of the assessment consortiums are discussing the use of computer assisted/adaptive formats for assessments with results that can be returned almost instantaneously.

Adopting the CCSS is the easiest part of the work. The adoption begs the question: What about implementation? Implementation strategies will need to be developed in 4 areas:
1. Curriculum
2. Teacher prep and PD
3. Student Supports
4. Assessment - and later Performance Standards that will come out of the content standards.

Cross wanted folks to understand that the issues related to the RTTT and reauthorization of ESEA are separate from the CCSS. Those other issues will need to be worked out by states as they apply for funding. THe CCSS can be used by any state - the adoption of the CCSS became an issue when funding for the state became a part of the picture. He wanted folks to know that these were separate conversations in Education. He also said that the reauthorization process would like be stalled with the current congress and that the discussion will likely start up again, after the election and initial confusion that follows with new congressional representatives.

Greg Geeting, Chair of the ACSC, gave a report of the work of the ACSC. ACSC is recommending CCSS in its entirety with the exception of the ELA appendices, which was huge. Additions to ELA: Penmanship, poetry recitations and one other that I did not catch.

Additions to math: 8th grade CCSS as the "national pathway," Pre Alg Pathway and a "full course of Algebra - a collection of standards that represent Algebra 1 - but to be determined by the local level." Additionally Ca added as its 15% augmentation the CA standards for Calculus, Probability and Statistics.

Geeting felt his job was to listen to the Commissioners. Comments by one commissioner, Dr. M. Kurst (sp?) seemed particularly meaningful to him. Geeting also stated that a concern of the ACSC was who would be in charge of the CCSS once they were in practice, since over time it would seem that these standards would need to be revised. He stated that the weakness of the CA standards is that there was no avenue for revision. He also stressed that it would be important for CA to develop a transition plan as we move from CA standards to CA/CCSS.

Kathryn R-Gaither, Undersecty of Ed gave an overview of the RTTT application. She believes the version created by the 7 districts - most of which are from the Central Valley (sorry about that plug...) - was a much stronger version than the one submitted by the state. On July 26, the finalists for the RTTT will be identified (Ca has since been identified as a finalist). That is not a guarantee of funding - just that they move on to further consideration for the decision for RTTT funding to be made in Sept. This application focuses on the District rather than individual schools, the districts also had well established data systems for monitoring students to use as evidence for that portion of the grant - systems that are better developed than what the state currently offers. Authoring Districts spoke to the application. When writing the RTTT, their assumption was that the CCSS would be in place, and they plan to move in that direction whether CA gets funding or not. Their grant suggests that there needs to be more flexibility in operation with a movement to local control. The state can be "tight" on the "what" of instruction but must be "loose" on the "how" of instruction (strong PLC language there!) They suspect that getting the RTTT will mean that " the adoption cycle construct will no longer be of value." New processes will need to be developed that match what the district needs to manage the "how" of instruction. They stated that the states that seem to be making the quickest gains in closing the gap are those where the state sets education policy and not education procedure. Districts also want choice in who they work with and a reciprocal relationship in terms of IHEs for teacher preparation.

Deb Sigman with CDE gave a presentation on the expectations for common assessments for the CCSS. Expectations are for:
1. Common procedures for who is to be assessed and how the assessment is given for the states within a consortium.
2. States will have to adopt common assessment procedures
3. States will have to adopt common set of item release policies
4. States will have to adopt common test security procedures
5. States will have to adopt common definition of "EL Student"
6. States will have to adopt common policies for students participation and accommodations

Currently, CA spends $51 million for the STAR. If we get RTTT, we will get $160 million for the development of a new assessment system for the consortium states.

Key Dates:
By Spring 2011 we will have completed 2-6 as noted above.
By Summer 2011 we will have CCSS in place.
By 2011/12 piloting of assessment will begin.
By 2012-13 and 2013-14 Field testing will take place.
By Summer 2014 we will have a common set of descriptors for CCSS.
By 2014/15 year, implementation of new assessments will begin.
By Summer 2015 we will have common set of performance and achievement standards. We will also have created the cut scores for proficiency in ELA and Math.

The new assessment will be given 4 times a year, with 25% of the content covered each time. The full test will have been completed by the last implementation. This will allow for faster return of results and will help with pacing, scope and sequence. The assessment events will be summative in nature - not common formative assessments. This format for assessment is expected to provide opportunities for more in depth analysis, multiple measures, opportunities to inform instruction. It will also be a difficult assessment to put together.

PARCC test item types: constructed response and performance tasks. Tests will be given by computers as states have developed that capacity. All consortiums will develop the assessments for the CCSS. However, if a state has prescribed something unique for a grade level - say Algebra in 8th grade, that state would be responsible for the development - cost and effort - of that test.

Until implementation of the new assessment in 2014-15, states will be held accountable to current NCLB process - unless reauthorization changes that. So there will be use of the CST test through 2014-2015 - although it will also be field testing the CCSS items as well.

From there we had lunch and broke into small groups to brainstorm recommendations for transition. Small groups reported out their work. Diana and I should be receiving copies of that work to share with CMC.


  1. I have been looking for some post regarding education and found this post. I can't read all the post but may be later I can find enough time to read this post.

  2. Thank you for this very informative information.

    I have a question about the “Key Dates” section. Wouldn’t it be necessary to have new books, assessments, and a new blueprint at the beginning of the school year that new assessments were given?

    Now I understand that some grade levels, like second, think that some of the current books could be used. On the other hand I think seventh and eighth grade will need to adopt new books.

    Here is an idea about how the implementation of the new standards should be approached:

    One of the strengths of the CCSS is the carefully thought out progression of ideas from one year to the next. I am excited to think about getting seventh graders who have had these standards K-6.

    On the other hand I am worried about trying to teach the enhanced Common Core seventh grade standards in two or three years when the students have not been prepared. I am even more worried about trying to teach the greatly enhanced Algebra 1 course with unprepared students.

    Why couldn’t the new standards be phased in?

    I understand it would be politically impossible to do a real phase in K first year, K-1 the second year etc.

    But why couldn’t there be a partial phase in? Something like K-2 and 9-12 the first year, K-5 and 9-12 the second year, and then K-12 the third year? I think K-2 because frankly the CCSS doesn’t have time to be really different yet. I think 9-12 is possible the first year because the traditional Geometry, Algebra II, Analysis, and Calculus sequence is not really that different.

    Remember the discussions and documents like “Caught in the Middle?” That is the challenge that will face the teachers and students in grades 6, 7, and 8. These courses are so different (Better!!) that we need to allow time for students to go through the new K-5 courses so they are prepared.

    If you think about it this idea has additional benefits. The enormous cost of teacher training could be spread out over three years and done better. Where will the state get the money to retrain all teachers in the same year? If teachers don’t get training on this very different approach to math education then they will not understand how to teach in depth instead of skimming over the surface. In grades 4, 5 and 6 the training will have to include how to do the math not just how to teach it. If teachers aren’t trained correctly it could appear that it was an error to adopt the CCSS. By the way where will all the trainers come from if we try to do this in one year?

    Another benefit is we wouldn’t have to buy all new books the first year. Where are the state or districts going to find the money for all new math books in two years? A phase in would make that more possible. It may even be that some books in some years don’t need to be replaced.

  3. Thank you for posting this information. My colleagues will be very glad to recieve it.