Q. What are standards, curriculum and assessments?
A. Standards set the goals for what students should learn. Curriculum encompasses what is taught and how. Assessments determine how much a student has learned and whether he or she has achieved one or more standards.
Q. Why is Mississippi transitioning to Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?
- Mississippi voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 because they provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn so that teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.
- Consistent standards, also adopted by 44 other states and the District of Columbia, will provide appropriate academic benchmarks for all students at each grade level, regardless of where they live.
- The standards incorporate the best and highest of previous state standards in the U.S. and are internationally benchmarked to the top performing nations around the world.
- Students will learn the skills and abilities demanded by the workforce of today and the future. The standards emphasize critical thinking, teamwork and problem-solving skills.
- The standards are grounded in college and career readiness.
Q. What can parents expect to see in the classroom?
A. In English language arts:
- First, students will read challenging texts in every class. They will continue to read classic literature stories, and poems in English class, but they also will be challenged with studying and analyzing nonfiction texts in all subject areas. As a result, students will be prepared to read, analyze, and write about all types of texts at a higher level when they graduate from high school.
- Second, students will be asked to use evidence from the text when writing papers or making oral presentations. In all classes, the standards will require students to not only read the text but dig deeper to support their arguments or research. As a result, students will be better prepared to support their arguments and decisions with evidence, not just opinion, whether they are in college or the workforce.
- First, students will work more in depth in fewer topics. In each grade level, the student’s teacher will cover fewer concepts than in the past but go into much more depth on each concept. This makes sure every student gains a full understanding before moving on to the next concept. As a result, students will gain a full and foundational understanding of mathematics before moving on to the next grade level.
- Second, students will understand how math works and be asked to talk about and prove their understanding. Students will no longer just memorize formulas but will learn why a particular formula exists. As a result, students will learn critical foundational concepts and problem-solving skills in the early grades so they are prepared for higher levels of math.
- Third, students will be asked to use math in real-world situations. They will learn strategies for solving problems they could encounter in life. As a result, students will gain critical thinking skills while in school that they can apply in postsecondary education and the workforce.
Q. Will teachers lose control of what and how to teach with Common Core?
A. The standards simply establish a clear set of goals and expectations for students at each grade level. Teachers and school leaders will determine how the standards are to be taught and will establish the curriculum (textbooks, tools and materials), just as they currently do. This allows for continued flexibility and creativity.
Q. Why are the Common Core State Standards just for English language arts and mathematics?
A. These core subject areas teach the foundational knowledge upon which students build skill sets in other subject areas. Also, the English language arts standards address literacy across disciplines, including science, social studies, and technical subjects.
Q. What does the National Education Association (NEA) think of CCSS?
A. The NEA, along with more national organizations and political leaders, has expressed support for CCSS. You can find a list of supporters here.
Q. I want to opt out of the Common Core for my child. How can I do this?
A. The CCSS are the standards for learning English language arts and mathematics in Mississippi. It is not possible to opt your child out of learning these two key subjects that are central to the appropriate education of every child.