Common Core

Educational standards designed to raise the bar for student achievement

New York State has changed its guidelines for what your child needs to learn in order to achieve success in school and beyond. The new educational guidelines – known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – align with a national initiative. They are designed to ensure that students are challenged in school and understand what they are learning on a deeper level and can think critically about it. For more information on Common Core State Standards and what they mean to Canajoharie students, please watch the video and read the questions and answers below.  (Source: adapted from and To learn about recent changes to the Common Core Standars click here.

Watch a video on Common Core



Q: What are Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?

A: In July 2010, the New York State Board of Regents adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts/literacy and mathematics as the new learning standards for all students in our state. The standards focus on depth and understanding, and provide guidelines of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. The standards are designed to ensure that students leave school ready for work and college, so they were designed to be much more rigorous than current standards.

Q. Who developed these standards?

A: The standards are a national initiative, which has been overseen by the United States Department of Education. Representatives from the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices worked closely with educators, researchers, national education organizations and community groups in designing the guidelines. The standards of other high-achieving nations were also taken into consideration. To date, 45 states have adopted similar CCSS, many as part of their application for funding under the federal Race to the Top educational reform efforts. Proponents of the standards believe that establishing common education standards throughout the nation ensures that all children—regardless of where they live, their socioeconomic status or their personal circumstances—receive an education that will prepare students for the future and help ensure our nation continues to be economically competitive.

Q: What’s the status of Common Core State Standards in New York and in other states?

A: On July 19, 2010, the New York State Board of Regents adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts/literacy and mathematics as the new learning standards for all students in our state. In New York, the CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. This will also help teachers and parents know what they need to do to support students in their education. The New York State Education Department began introducing elements of the CCSS this year. In the 2012-13 school year, the state began changing its exams to assess students based on the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and math; in the 2014-15 school year, all districts were required to have CCSS fully implemented.

Q: What exactly are "interim assessments"?

A: They are teacher-developed and administered tests that are given at regular intervals throughout the year. The purpose of the assessments is to identify students' learning strengths and weaknesses in a curriculum area. Teachers use the results of the assessments to make decisions about their instruction and student learning.

Q: What criteria were used to develop the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) at the national level?

A: The CCSS were developed using the following criteria:

  • Standards should be aligned with expectations for college and career success;

  • Standards should be clear, so that educators and parents know what they need to do to help students learn;

  • Standards should be consistent across all states, so that students are not taught to a lower standard just because of where they live;

  • Standards should include both content and the application of knowledge through high-order skills;

  • Standards should build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards and standards of top-performing nations;

  • Standards should be realistic, for effective use in the classroom;

  •  Standards should be based on successful educational initiatives used in top-performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society;

  • Standards should be evidence-based.

Q: How will the Common Core State Standards change the teaching and learning process?

A: There are 12 “shifts” or changes that the Common Core requires of schools: six in ELA/literacy and six in mathematics. The shifts are aimed at making students ready for college and a career. For example, students will read more non-fiction so they are able to deal with real world data at work.

For more information about the shifts in the instructional process envisioned by the Common Core standards, see the links below:

Shifts in ELA/literacy and mathematics [PDF]

Shifts in instruction [PDF]

Q: How will the standards affect other subject areas?

A: These standards establish requirements not only for English Language Arts (ELA) but also for literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects. Because students must learn to read, write, speak, listen and use language effectively in a variety of content areas, the standards specify the literacy skills and understanding required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines. As a natural extension of meeting the charge to define college and career readiness, the standards also lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century.

Q: What do the new Common Core Learning Standards mean for student learning in mathematics?

A: These standards define what students should understand and be able to do in their study of math. But what does mathematical understanding look like? One hallmark of mathematical understanding is the ability to justify, in a way appropriate to the student’s level of mathematical understanding, why a particular mathematical statement is true or where a mathematical rule comes from. EngageNY, a website designed to help parents and educators understand the new standards through practical examples, provides an explanation of what this means. The site says, “There is a world of difference between a student who can summon a memorization technique to expand a product such as (a + b)(x + y) and a student who can explain why the equation works the way that it does. The student who can explain the details understands the mathematics, and may have a better chance to succeed at a less familiar task such as expanding (a + b + c)(x + y). Mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important, and both are assessable using mathematical tasks of sufficient richness.”

Q: Why are the Common Core State Standards for just ELA/literacy and math?

A: ELA/literacy and math were the chosen for the Common Core State Standards because the skill sets learned in these two subject areas form the foundation for all other subject areas. Additionally, ELA and math are most frequently assessed for accountability purposes.

Q: What does this new initiative mean for students with disabilities and English language learners?

A: Common standards will provide a greater opportunity for states to share experiences and best practices within and across states. In turn, this can lead to an improved ability to serve young people with disabilities and English language learners. Additionally, the K-12 English language arts and mathematics standards include information on application of the standards for English language learners and students with disabilities.

Q: Where can I get more information on the Common Core State Standards

A: Link to the sites below or ask one of Canajoharie’s principals for more information.

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