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Higher Expectations, Higher Achievement

Curriculum and Instruction


Q. If the state of MS is already failing so poorly at its own state frameworks in ELA and Math, how can the state expect to see improvement by adopting the more rigorous, advanced CCSS in ELA and Math?
A.
The CCSS for ELA and Math provide clearer, more focused standards that our current frameworks lacked.  With the adoption of the CCSS in ELA and Math, teachers will have greater flexibility in providing students with the conceptual understanding, application and problem-solving skills that are required for college and careers.  The MDE understands that all stakeholders will have to work even harder to ensure academic success.

Q. How will CCSS be funded properly when schools are already underfunded?
A.
The MDE has encouraged districts to examine all possible funding streams, leveraging state and federal funds to support CCSS implementation.  The MDE will continue to encourage full funding of MAEP and explore additional funding sources.

Q. What is the recommended timeline for districts to implement CCSS?
A.
The MDE suggested that Grades K-2 begin implementation during the 2011-12 school year; Grades 3-8 during the 2012-13 school year and Grades 9-12 during the 2013-14 school year.  The PARCC CCSS assessments will be “live” during the 2014-15 school year in ELA and Math.

Q. What training has the MDE provided for teachers on the CCSS?
A.
To facilitate training, our initial CCSS trainings for teachers were conducted using a “Training of the Trainers” (TOT) model in various locations throughout the state.  All training materials are available at www.mde.k12.ms.us/ccss under the Training Materials link.  Follow-up trainings have been provided for all teachers via webinar on a monthly basis and are archived at www.mde.k12.ms.us/iTunes.  Teachers of students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities (SCD) received training in Spring 2013.  Materials for this training are available at www.mde.k12.ms/dlm.  The MDE will continue to provide training and resources for teachers.

Q. When will all teachers (not just Grades K-2) be trained on effective literacy strategies to meet the demands of the CCSS?
A.
Beginning in the spring 2014, the MDE will provide literacy training for teachers in targeted schools with a plan to train all K-3 teachers by the 2016-2017 school year.  Training to support teachers who work with struggling learners is planned for the spring of 2014.

Q. How are MS Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) preparing teachers to teach the Common Core State Standards?
A.
The MDE is working in collaboration with the colleges/universities in the state to provide training and informational sessions on the transition to the CCSS.  These trainings consist of understanding the instructional shifts for ELA and Math, discussing pedagogical demands for pre-service teachers, and understanding assessment requirements for students.  In addition, faculty and staff from various IHLs and community colleges from across the state have been an integral part of the CCSS high school transition task force committees. 

Q. What role did the Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB), The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), and Marc Tucker play in the creation of the CCSS?
A.
The MDE is not aware of the role (if any) that CIEB, NCEE, or Marc Tucker played in the creation of the CCSS.

Q. “Back-loading” is a research-based method that requires that the curriculum be developed after the assessments have been created.  How successful do we think we are going to be by not keeping this age-old practice?
A.
While back-loading is used by many educators, it has little to no direct impact on student achievement. Back-loading almost always causes teachers to “teach-to-the-test” and limits teacher creativity and student engagement with the content.  The fact that the CCSS assessments are being developed after the Standards allows teachers to provide authentic learning tasks and activities for students without the constraints of “how” a concept will be tested.  Because the Standards are clearer and more focused, teachers will find “front-loading” more advantageous and rewarding for themselves and their students.

Q. Historically there are so many districts in MS that do not have enough textbooks for their student population, what does the MDE intend to do about massive shortage as we try to implement the CCSS?
A.
Through MAEP, the MDE funnels state dollars to districts to operate. While state law does not specifically address funding for textbooks, districts are expected to prioritize funds to buy necessary resources, such as textbooks. Having textbooks available for students is an accreditation standard. In addition, MDE has always advocated for full funding for MAEP to better help districts meet their needs.

Q. Has the state performed a “gap-analysis” on the technology and E-resources in each district to determine if they are prepared to implement the CCSS?  If not, why?
A.
School districts across MS have participated in a technology readiness survey to determine current capacity.  Additionally districts have access to a capacity planning tool that may be used to measure needs.

Q. Will the MDE develop sample lesson plans for ELA and Math?
A.
The MDE anticipates that the Office of Curriculum and Instruction will begin work on sample lessons and teaching strategies for ELA and Math during the 2013-2014 school year. This work will be the collaboration between content and assessment specialists at the MDE, and educators throughout the state of Mississippi.  Some instructional resources are currently available at www.mde.k12.ms.us/ccss under the CCSS Training Materials link.

Q. Does the CCSS offer interventions for special population students?
A.
The CCSS do not include intervention strategies for special population students.  These standards do not include the full range of support appropriate for ELL, struggling students, or students with disabilities.   Teachers are encouraged to use the Response to Intervention (RtI) process to address the needs of struggling students. 

Q. Will teachers of English Language Learners (ELL) be trained?
A.
The MDE will offer training to ELL teachers in Spring 2014 at various locations throughout the state to support appropriate instructional practices for teaching the CCSS to English Language Learners.

Q. Will the CCSS make the Gifted Programs obsolete?
A.
The state mandated gifted education program is based on gifted program outcomes.  The CCSS for ELA and Math gauge the academic progress of all students including students who are eligible for gifted services.  The CCSS do not replace the outcomes of the gifted program.

Q. What will the MDE do to keep gifted students from falling through the cracks when they are considered “underclassmen”?
A.
Districts are required to offer high ability learners certain academic options to suit their need for intellectual and academic challenge. Some of these options include Dual Credit courses, Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses, and individual research projects.

Q. Will the MDE develop CCSS-aligned resources for teachers that teach gifted students?
A.
The MDE will not develop CCSS resources for teachers who teach gifted students.  Teachers should reference the gifted program outcomes.

Q. How will the foundational documents of our country be analyzed?
A.
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts state that the themes, purposes, and rhetorical features of seminal and foundational U.S. documents should be analyzed, including how they address related themes and concepts.  How this analysis is conducted is to be determined by the teacher.

Q. Do the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts tell teachers to stop teaching literature and replace it with informational texts?
A.
The CCSS for ELA give a suggested percentage of each text type that students should read.  For example, a 4th grade student should read about 50% informational text and 50% literary text.  These percentages should span the entire school day.  So, when students read text books and documents in science, social studies, math, and technical subjects, they are reading informational texts.  In reading class, students should still read literary texts.  In fact, if all of the reading a student does in a school-day is considered, students technically have a greater exposure to informational texts.  Literature remains a vital part of the education of all students.

Q. If the CCSS for ELA require less classic literature and more so called "informational texts", how is that not considered "control over the curriculum?"
A.
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts do not require removal of any classic literature in favor of informational texts.  In the Introduction to the CCSS for ELA, there is a graphic that delineates suggested percentages for reading of literary texts and informational texts.  For example, the graphic, adopted from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), suggests a high school senior should read 30% literature and 70% informational text.  However, the Introduction to the Standards clearly states, “Because the ELA classroom must focus on literature (stories, drama, and poetry) as well as literary nonfiction, a great deal of informational reading in grades 6–12 must take place in other classes if the NAEP assessment framework is to be matched instructionally.”  In other words, the standards are NOT suggesting that 30% of the text be literature with 70% of the text being informational in English class.  They suggest that these percentages encompass the ENTIRE SCHOOL DAY

Q. Does the CCSS ELA eliminate cursive writing?  If so, why?
A.
The CCSS for ELA do not eliminate cursive writing.  The CCSS for ELA do not include all that can or should be taught.  While the CCSS for ELA do not REQUIRE that students learn to write cursively, they do not prevent instruction of cursive writing.  A school or district may choose to require students learn cursive writing.

Q. Why are students being asked to read "objectionable" material like "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison and other literary texts that may be offensive for one reason or another?
A.
The CCSS for ELA do not require any specific text to be read.  In the standards, there is reference to certain texts, such as the Bible, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.  Appendix B of the CCSS for ELA provides exemplar texts.  These texts are meant to serve only as guideposts for teachers when determining the breadth and complexity of texts students should read.  These texts are NOT REQUIRED, nor are they suggested reading.  They are examples of the complexity of texts students should read at each grade level.  Teachers, schools, and districts are responsible for choosing materials that students read.  The CCSS for ELA do not require any specific text be used.  This is a local decision.

Q. What is the state’s plan for implementing transitional courses for those students that are not identified as “college or career ready”?
A.
The state will continue to offer Compensatory courses in English Language Arts and Math.  For students enrolled in Compensatory courses, these classes must be taught during the same academic year as the student is enrolled in a CCSS grade level course in ELA and Math.  These Compensatory courses will provide intervention strategies and support for struggling students who may be identified as not being college- or career-ready. 

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