Frequently Asked Questions about New York State’s Common Core
What are the Common Core Standards?
According to EngageNY, the Common Core Standards will help all students across the State learn the same skills in order to make sure that they are ready for college and careers. The standards include changes, or "shifts," in how teachers teach to help children succeed in the topics and skills that matter most.
What are the key differences between New York State’s previous curriculum and the new Common Core standards?
Six Shifts in ELA/Literacy
More nonfiction reading
More writing and strategic reading in the content areas
Higher expectations for the complexity that students can read (from second grade onward)
More emphasis on finding evidence to support ideas and claims
More research-based writing
Focus on academic vocabulary
Six Shifts in Math
Focus: fewer concepts and skills covered in each grade
Coherence: connecting the learning from one grade to another
Fluency: automatic retrieval of math facts
Deep Understanding: understanding the why of math concepts
Applications: being able to use math in the real world
Dual Intensity: going deeper while covering fewer concepts
For practical examples of these shifts and a guide for families, see the National PTA Parents’ Guide to Success.
Have the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Math replaced the previous standards in these subject areas?
Yes—the Board of Regents adopted the new Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 Common Core Learning Standards in January 2011.
When will testing on the Common Core begin?
In New York State, the English and Math tests are typically administered in April. They will be given to Grades 3-8.
Is the Common Core just about tests? Although the new testing model is gaining a lot of attention from the media and from teachers unions, the Common Core is about much more than just testing. It is about changing the way teachers teach, and about changing what students are learning. The changes are deeply imbedded in the curriculum, and will impact students everyday, not just on test days. The Common Core is about creating consistency from state-to-state, and about giving Districts a “baseline” to compare to. The Common Core will also impact how schools are rated by the state and federal government, which will impact funding and programming on a district-by-district basis. For the first time ever, the curriculum of public education is being “backmapped” and the Common Core curriculum “begins with the end in mind” by focusing on the skills and qualities students will need to be successful in work and in life.
How will the Common Core curriculum be reflected in new tests?
In English, there will be an intense focus on complex, grade-appropriate non-fiction and fiction texts. Students will be asked to write about what they read, and to show the evidence that supports their answers. In Math, the Common Core Standards will focus on fewer, more central standards and core understandings and linkages between mathematical concepts and skills. Students will be asked to “show their work” on complex, multi-step math problems.
Will there be new learning standards for other subject areas?
According to the New York State Education Department, there are no current plans to completely revise the New York State Learning Standards for science or social studies, although there is the possibility that common standards will be created in the future. New national standards in science will be released this April; New York has not yet formally reviewed these.
Will the Common Core include a statewide curriculum for teachers?
According to the New York State Education Department, there will not be a required curriculum; however, P-12 resources will be provided in the form of curriculum modules for English Language Arts and Mathematics. Other resources to assist teachers with implementation of the new standards are forthcoming. Please see the following website for more information: http://engageny.org/resource/year-long-draft-curricular-maps-in-ela-and-mathematics/
How will student performance on the new Common-Core tests affect the New York State Education Department’s assessments of my school or school district?
According to a March 2013 memo by Deputy Commissioner Ken Slenz, no new districts will be identified as Focus Districts and no new schools will be identified as Priority Schools based on 2012-13 assessment results. NYSED is currently seeking United States Education Department approval to make statistical adjustments to the previous definition of “proficiency” when making Adequate Yearly Progress determinations and other accountability decisions. According to New York State, teachers’ evaluation scores also should not be affected by the change in the tests.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
Common Core Standards Resources
For Parents and Families:
National PTA Parent’s Guide To Success
National PTA® created the guides for grades K-8 and two for grades 9-12 (one for English language arts/literacy and one for mathematics). The Guide includes: key items that children should be learning in English language arts and mathematics in each grade, once the standards are fully implemented; activities that parents can do at home to support their child's learning; methods for helping parents build stronger relationships with their child's teacher; and tips for planning for college and career (high school only).
The Toolkit for Parents and Families is a collection of materials and resources that will help parents and families understand the New York State education reform initiatives and how the changes will help your child graduate from high school ready for college and careers. We encourage parents and families to use these tools in conjunction with resources and information you receive from your child’s school and teachers.