What was the most important factor in South Carolina's decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards?
The primary motivation for adopting the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics is that they’re an improvement over what we have now. That determination was made after extensive review by the Education Department, and it was approved by the Education Oversight Committee. The idea that the Common Core Standards were stronger was reinforced by a state-by-state analysis performed by the Fordham Foundation. In addition, adopting the new standards allows comparisons with other states.
Please highlight some major differences between the common standards and the current state standards.
Our agency’s content-area review groups found consistent evidence that the CCSS meet or exceed the rigor of South Carolina’s current ELA and math standards.
But there are some differences: In English Language Arts, the CCSS establish a “staircase” of increasing complexity in what students must be able to read so that all students are ready for the demands of college- and career-level reading no later than the end of high school. The CCSS are more detailed in phonics than the current standards. More emphasis is placed on the ability to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence. Opinion writing—a basic form of argument—extends down into the earliest grades. More emphasis is placed on student research—short, focused projects (such as those commonly required in the workplace) and longer-term, in-depth research.
Through reading a diverse array of classic and contemporary literature as well as challenging informational texts in a range of subjects, students are expected to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives. Media and technology are integrated throughout the ELA standards.
In Mathematics, the CCSS place greater emphasis on operations with fractions and decimals in grades three through five (foundational math) than did the current math standards. The CCSS standards lay a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals. Students are expected to these use the foundational elements to learn and apply more demanding math concepts and procedures. Middle school and high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real-world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically. The math CCSS standards set a rigorous definition of college and career readiness, not by piling topic upon topic, but by demanding that students develop a depth of understanding and ability to apply mathematics to new situations.
Will any current S.C. standards be incorporated into the common standards? If so, which ones?
We don’t know yet which current standards might be incorporated into the common standards. It’s worth nothing, though, the an overall content alignment of 97 percent exists between the between the CCSS and current standards. Most of the content included in our state standards is presented in some form, and in some cases at different grade levels, in the CCSS. How long do you think it will take for the core standards to be implemented, and why? South Carolina will fully implement the new standards 2014-15 school year. Time is required to introduce them to various stakeholder groups and get their feedback.
Then, as you might imagine, there is considerable communication and teacher training involved. South Carolina’s Transition Team will include teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, other educators, and representatives from educational organizations, business and community, and postsecondary education representing both two- and four-year institutions. We’ve got lots of additional details if you need them.
Current year Timeline 2010
October Solicit recommendations for the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Content Area Work Groups
November Select panel members for the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Content Area Work Groups
January Convene the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Content Area Work Groups
February Districts select CCSS Implementation Teams and sign assurance letters
March Conduct Awareness Sessions to be held regionally
February - May Continue the alignment and development of resources to support the understanding and implementation of the CCSS
Summer Provide Professional Development for District Teams
Will you work to coordinate the core standards with first-year college curriculum or with college admissions standards? How?
Education, business, and state leaders’ organizations, including Achieve, Inc, ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Hunt Institute, the National Parent Teacher Association, the State Higher Education Executive Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the Business Roundtable were involved in the development of the CCSS. Higher education representatives will be involved in working teams and the implementation panels established for transition to the CCSS.
Will teacher evaluation systems be affected by the core standards? If so, how? If not, why not?
Yes, educator evaluation systems will be aligned with the CCSS standards. This year, as part of a broader effort to refine and improve educator evaluation systems, we will analyze specific skills and knowledge required to successfully teach the new and ensure that those skills are embedded in the Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teaching (ADEPT) system that we use to evaluate teachers.