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Implementation of Newly Adopted Common Core State Standards

By: Morgan Murdock
Wasatch County School District Assessment & Secondary Curriculum Specialist

Utah has joined with over 40 states and territories in adopting the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS are comprised of standards in English/Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects and Mathematics. The Common Core initiative is a voluntary, state-led effort and not a federally funded mandate. The initiative is organized and supported by the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Parents, teachers, school administrators, and experts from around the country have also been involved in this effort.

“A Call to Take the Next Step”

In the introduction of the CCSS for Mathematics it is boldly stated, “These standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step. It is time for states to work together to build on lessons learned from two decades of standards based reforms. It is time to recognize that standards are not just promises to our children, but promises we intend to keep.”

Strengths of the Common Core

In a recent publication, the Utah State Office of Education stated, “The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” These individuals relied on research data, state standards from across the country, and international standards.

The USOE identified the following as strengths of the new Common Core. These standards:

  • Are aligned with college and work expectations.
  • Are clear, understandable, and consistent.
  • Include rigorous content, essential academic skills, and application of knowledge through high-order skills.
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards.
  • Are informed by other top-performing countries.
  • Are evidence-based.
Implementation in Utah

In November, the Utah State Superintendent of Schools, Larry Shumway, sent a memo to all Superintendents and Charter School Directors addressing the Common Core. He also provided them with the USOE recommended schedule for implementation, which was approved by the Utah State Board of Education. Shumway explained that math, language arts, and assessment experts from schools and districts across the state were brought together in committees to help develop this schedule. He emphasized that all schools and districts throughout the state would be expected to implement CCSS by the spring of 2015, when new operational assessments will replace the current Criterion Referenced Tests (CRTs). He stated that the USOE will be providing professional development, materials, and assessments according to the approved implementation timeline. He also announced that districts and charter schools “may choose to move at a slower or faster pace to reach the spring 2015 accountability deadline.”

Recognizing the common need for aligned curriculum materials and professional development, Shumway added, “USOE staff is working with publishers, higher education institutions, private organizations and other states to ensure that Utah teachers have the textbooks, resources and training they need to fully implement the new CCSS.”

Addressing the topic of assessment, Shumway added that a number of states have joined together to form the SMARTER Balanced Consortium. He explained, “The work of this Consortium is to revise assessments in Reading/Language Arts and Mathematics so that assessments are more formative in nature, focused on detecting student abilities early each year, providing evidence of individual student growth, and meet all current federal summative assessment requirements.” (State Superintendent Shumway’s memo, the USOE timeline, and other documents can be viewed at

Implementation in Wasatch County School District

District personnel, school board members, school administrators, teachers, and counselors are in constant collaboration to ensure that the Common Core State Standards are implemented in the Wasatch County School District in a timely and effective manner. The district is in the process of developing a district implementation timeline, which will take into account many aspects of the educational community, including: student needs, parent communication, effective use of Professional Learning Communities, ongoing professional development, budget needs/priorities, texts/materials, collaboration with other school districts, assessment, strategic use of support staff, and effective use of technology. In the near future more information regarding local Common Core implementation will be available on the school district website.

For more general information on the Common Core State Standards please visit

BY MORGAN MURDOCK   02/17/2011

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