The Public Support Statement for Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments - Preparing students to be college and career ready
California is transitioning to a new set of expectations for our students and a new system for measuring growth. The Common Core standards in English language arts and mathematics are internationally benchmarked and focused on supporting students to be ready for the 21st century. The Smarter Balanced assessments are an important tool in ensuring students are meeting expectations set by the standards. We believe that these investments will strengthen the educational program provided to our students, but successful implementation will require sustained support and collaboration of the entire community.
Common Core academic standards will help ensure students graduate college and career ready
The state’s new standards will benefit students by having fewer, clearer, and deeper standards and require a greater use of analysis, critical thinking and real-world skills. They are also internationally benchmarked and line up with the skills that all students need to prepare for a global 21st century economy that’s increasingly competitive and always evolving. As an example, rather than reciting facts from a reading passage, students are asked to show deeper understanding, such as examining the theme of the passage, using information from text to explain their answer. Local districts and teachers have been reviewing and updating how they teach the new standards to students over the last few years, and are earnestly engaged in exposing students to this new approach to learning.
The Smarter Balanced assessments were developed to measure how well students are learning these deeper learning skills
The new Smarter Balanced tests are designed to help educators and parents know if students are progressing and understanding what they are supposed to be learning. These tests move away from a fill in the bubble format to a technology-based format allowing for a better measure of the knowledge and skills students are acquiring through the use of short answer, longer responses and performance tasks, in addition to multiple choice questions. The assessments will also be adaptive, which means the difficulty of subsequent questions will be based on the response to the previous question. This allows the test to more accurately and efficiently reflect what students know. It is important to make sure students are on the path towards graduating college and career ready and more importantly to identify any challenges early.
We all have a stake in the success of the new assessment system so the work over the next several months will take our ongoing support and commitment
Our students have a real opportunity to reach new levels of success during their K-12 education career as the assessment is refined and Common Core is fully implemented. There’s an important need for policymakers, district leaders, teachers, parents, business leaders and community members as this transition continues, which is to understand the implementation process and maintain reasonable expectations. The administration of these new assessments in Spring 2014 will be “testing the test” as well as the capacity of districts, and will provide an opportunity for issues that arise to be addressed before the test goes live in the spring of 2015. While we recognize the hard work that needs to be done by teachers, district leaders, and state policymakers to make Common Core implementation successful, we believe that the investments and hard work will pay off for our students in the long run in preparing them for college and career.