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EXPANDING OUR EXPECTATIONS - Partnership for Learning



How College and Career Readiness Standards

Are Changing K-12 Learning Environments

Made Possible by

September 2013


The authors – Linda Keller MacDonald and Ron MacDonald, co-directors of Model Secondary

Schools Project – would like to thank the numerous individuals who took the time to share with

us their efforts and thoughts on the challenges and process for making student readiness for

college and career a central element in how we teach, what we expect students to learn, and how

we measure school and student success in Washington state.

The Partnership for Learning, the Washington Roundtable’s Education Foundation, extends

grateful thanks to College Spark Washington for funding the production and distribution

of this paper and support of the Real Learning for Real Life Common Core State Standards

communication campaign.

About College Spark Washington: College Spark Washington

funds programs across Washington state that help low-income

students become college-ready and earn their degrees. College

Spark Washington makes grants to organizations and institutions

throughout Washington that help low-income students improve their academic achievement,

prepare for college, and successfully graduate. Grantees include community-based organizations,

community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, education non-profits, and

public agencies. http://www.collegespark.org/

About Partnership for Learning: Partnership for Learning,

the education foundation of the Washington Roundtable, is a

statewide nonprofit organization that communicates the need for all

Washington’s students to graduate from high school ready for career

and college. As a trusted source of information, Partnership for

Learning makes complex education issues accessible. Partnership for Learning’s primary focus is

to build awareness, understanding and support for improving K-12 public education. Partnership

for Learning wants Washington state to lead the nation with an education system that prepares

all students to succeed in college and career, and fosters our state’s economic competitiveness.


About Model Secondary Schools Project: We bring a broad

set of skills in education, communication, technology, strategic

planning and organizational development to address the equity and

performance challenges facing U.S. schools at all grade levels. Our

focus has primarily been on innovative approaches to address the challenges of school start-up

and reorganization, school and district professional development, and technical assistance

including planning and implementing change strategies. http://www.modelschoolsproject.org/



How College and Career Readiness Standards

Are Changing K-12 Learning Environments



2 Our Challenge

6 Washington’s Shift to Common Core State Standards

8 Implementing Common Core

13 Toward Collaborative Solutions

14 Appendices


This paper, the focus of which is on preparing Washington

students for their futures, begins with a single assumption:

Every student graduating from our high schools should be

ready to succeed in both college and a career. The pathway each

student chooses to accomplish this, and how, is for each

student to make.

The world at large and the world in our students’

classrooms is quite different today from the one that

provided the skill and knowledge foundations for

today’s adults. A global knowledge economy means we

are expecting more people than ever before to learn,

know and apply more complex skills, higher levels of

communications, constantly changing technologies, and

greater cultural flexibility than was

the norm for previous generations.

This is true to both secure and

contribute to gainful employment,

and, importantly, to participate in

a democratic society increasingly

reliant on technology and high

levels of literacy. We are faced with

deciding what steps to take now to

best prepare today’s K-12 students

for the challenges and changes of their futures.

Realizing the promise of college and career readiness for

all students delivers multiple benefits for Washington

State’s economy, communities, families and individuals.

Washington is one of 46 states to voluntarily adopt the

Common Core State Standards in math and English

language arts. These standards are designed to serve as

better indicators of how well students are prepared for

college, work and life. The Common Core documents

are substantial; they provide standards for teaching and

learning at every grade level with references across content

areas for critical skills. These Common Core standards

are consistent across the states in which they have been

adopted and match the standards used by top-performing

nations. In short, the standards are designed to build on

the most advanced current thinking – in the United States

and internationally – about preparing all students for

success in college and their careers.

A college and career readiness set of standards and

expectations refocuses teaching and learning on what

and how we teach and better encompasses our ever

evolving understanding regarding how students learn.

College and career readiness standards also place a greater

emphasis on critical thinking and interpersonal skills

with more opportunities to analyze and communicate

“Common Core sets higher

learning expectations for all

students than in the past, and it

may take some time for students

and schools to meet and exceed

these new performance targets.”

about information. These standards are more rigorous

and comprehensive than Washington’s previous academic

standards in English language arts and math. They

ask our teachers and students to apply thinking and

communication skills across a variety of content areas and

problems, collaborate with others in finding solutions,

and embrace a view of learning that recognizes the value

of diversity in the skills and talents each learner brings

to school. College and career readiness is not just a high

school concern. The Common Core provides indicators of

student readiness that start with kindergarten and extend

through to college or post-secondary training.

In the 2013-14 academic year, Washington students

and educators will begin working

with these more rigorous and

comprehensive standards, preparing

students for new assessments –

aligned to the Common Core – to be

administered beginning in 2014-15.

Research on human behavior,

motivation and learning shows that

when learning expectations are

raised, students will work harder to

meet those expectations. Common Core sets higher learning

expectations than in the past, and it may take some time

for students and schools to meet and exceed these new

performance targets. With the higher, more rigorous and

comprehensive Common Core standards, Washington – like

other states – is poised to administer better exams that more

accurately measure students’ college and career readiness

and their progress year by year. This has been a request of

educators and employers alike.

There is opportunity here, but successful implementation

will require heavy lifting. Making the Common Core

learning standards the standards for learning for every

student in every classroom in the state will take

substantial effort.

This paper provides information about the Common Core

State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and math

and related areas including:

• College and career readiness

• The challenges that may surface as we raise


• How we expect instructional practice, school culture,

assessments and professional development to change.

1 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project


Can Every Student Graduate From High

School Ready To Succeed In College

And/Or A Career?

At the heart of the state and country’s efforts to improve

excellence, equity and college and career readiness for

all students is a shift in expectations that ripples from

kindergarten to high school graduation and beyond. The

most frequently discussed element in moving to the higher

expectations for student learning embedded in the concept

of college and career readiness is the Common Core State

Standards (CCSS). These heightened expectations align well

with the practices and outcomes toward which our best

teachers have always worked. In many places and schools,

this new learning is already taking place, supported by

A student who is ready for college and career

can qualify for and succeed in entry-level,

credit-bearing college courses leading to a

baccalaureate or certificate, or career pathwayoriented

training programs without the need

for remedial or developmental coursework.

(David Conley - What Are Deeper Learning

Skills and How Are They Measured?, EPIC

Online, 2012) http://www.epiconline.org/

current and new teaching resources, use of technology-based

and adaptive learning tools, frequent student collaboration,

broader approaches to thinking and problem solving, and

personalized learning matched to student progress.

The Common Core standards have been developed with the

intent of taking a large step toward more fully integrating

our baseline assumption that education is all about equity

and opportunity for every student in every school. The

standards build on the expectation that we can give every

student adequate opportunity to ensure readiness for

college and career success on graduation from high school.

Embedded in this broad concept of Common Core is:

• Recognition of critical skill gateways,

• Building a solid foundation for the future for each


• Moving schools away from the practice of

determining the pathways available to students, and

• Helping students recognize the options and

opportunities available so each may realize his/her

own dreams.

The two illustrations (Charts A and B) from David Conley

at the Educational Policy Improvement Center in Eugene,

Oregon, provide a more detailed illustration of the key

concepts college and career readiness reinforces in the



Problem Formulation




Precision &





Key Content



Structure of Knowledge


knowledge & skills

Challenge Level







Postsecondary Costs


Career Awareness

Role & Identity





and Skills

Key Learning

Skills and



Ownership of




CHART A shows the Four Keys to College and Career Readiness and defines four

critical areas of skills and knowledge students need for success in college and a career as

explained by David Conley. http://www.epiconline.org/

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 2

Key Cognitive


Key Content


Key Learning

Skills and


Key Transition

Knowledge and


+ Problem formulation

+ Hypothesize

+ Strategize

+ Research

+ Identify

+ Collect

+ Interpretation

+ Analyze

+ Evaluate

+ Communication

+ Organize

+ Construct

+ Precision & accuracy

+ Monitor

+ Confirm

+ Structure of


+ Key terms and


+ Factual information

+ Linking ideas

+ Organizing concepts

+ Technical knowledge

and skills

+ Challenge level

+ Value

+ Attribution

+ Effort

+ Ownership of


+ Goal setting

+ Persistence

+ Self-awareness

+ Motivation

+ Help seeking

+ Progress monitoring

+ Self-efficacy

+ Learning techniques

+ Time management

+ Test taking skills

+ Note taking skills

+ Memorization/ recall

+ Strategic reading

+ Collaborative learning

+ Technology proficiency

+ Postsecondary


+ Aspirations

+ Norms/culture

+ Postsecondary costs

+ Tuition

+ Financial aid

+ Matriculation

+ Eligibility

+ Admissions

+ Program

+ Career awareness

+ Requirements

+ Readiness

+ Role and identity

+ Role models

+ Self-advocacy

+ Resource acquisition

+ Institutional advocacy

CHART B details the skills embedded in The Four Keys to College and Career Readiness and illustrates how the four keys

are interlinked with classroom skills, many of which are taught in classrooms today. A Complete Definition of College and Career

Readiness – David Conley May 02, 2012 http://www.epiconline.org/

The past 40 years have demonstrated that the challenge of

improving student performance in terms of 21st century

college and career readiness results will not be resolved by

one ‘Big Idea’ by itself. We will need to build our capacity

to better utilize a variety of flexible strategies to address

the challenge of turning our education system into one

that well serves 21st

century demands. These

include: public information;

legislation; school and district

regulations; new textbooks;

new online materials,

them for their futures.”

resources, and assessments;

teacher and principal training;

more challenging tests; and a better understanding of how

data can inform and improve instruction for each student.

Transitioning all Washington schools, students and

educators to a deeper focus on critical thinking and

interpersonal skills will not be simple to achieve. Our

K-12 system is the largest portion of the Washington

state budget, yet the Washington State Supreme Court’s

“…our greatest education challenge: to ensure

more students are graduating high school with

a mastery of rigorous content that will prepare

2012 McCleary decision concluded that our state has not

been amply funding K-12 public education. A substantial

effort is underway throughout Washington and across

the country to establish the best methods for achieving

significantly-improved student outcomes regardless

of a student’s zip code. State and federal education

departments, public policy

groups, philanthropies,

professional organizations,

school districts, educators,

colleges and universities,

and business leaders are

collaborating to realize

what many feel is our

greatest education challenge: to ensure more students are

graduating high school with a mastery of rigorous content

that will prepare them for their futures.

3 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project

Percent Met Standard





Opportunity Gap



Asian/Pacific Islander*



American Indian

Pacific Islander


97-98 98-99 99-00 00-01 01-02 02-03 03-04 04-05 05-06 06-07 07-08 08-09


*Pacific Island and Asian American students were first disaggregated in 2007-08.

CHART Achievement C displays Gap student Oversight performance and Accountability on the fourth grade Committe Washington Report, state January reading assessment 2010 by ethnic group. Evident in

this graph is the disparities in student academic performance, commonly called the opportunity gap, which exists between the

various races and ethnicities. Washington State Achievement Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee, January 2011


As a nation and as a state, the education system in place

provides more opportunities and options for those who

have the most resources and limits the options and

resources for those who have the least. Simply put, our

social support systems and economic growth are out

of balance with our ideals. We look to public education,

including our two- or four-year colleges, to prepare all of

our students for the vast majority of current and future

jobs and for participation in a democratic society. Yet a

look at school performance data in Washington and in

every state across the country provides an overview of the

problem: students in urban and rural schools, especially

in areas with low economic resources and/or population

densities with families of color and/or English language

learners, have significantly lower academic success rates

than students in suburban, white and/or higher income


While we may not be able to resolve the complex challenges

of poverty, we do have a constitutional mandate in

Washington state to provide equitable options to achieve

high level outcomes for each and every student in

Washington. At the same time, we also have to ensure our

best schools continue to realize even better results. (The

McCleary ruling is complex - this link is to a presentation

on the history, context and next steps coming from the

ruling: http://1.usa.gov/14yBzzo)

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 4

Computer and Mathematical

Healthcare Support

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical

Life, Physical, and Social Science

Building, Grounds Cleaning and Matintenace

Community and Social Services

Personal Care and Service

Architecture and Engineering


Business and Financial Operations

Protective Services

Arts, Design, Entertainment, and Sports


Office and Administrative Support

Food Preparation and Services Related

Education, Training and Library

Transportation and Material Moving

Construction and Extraction


Sales and Related

Installation, Maintenance and Repair

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry












Chart D summarizes the projected job growth in Washington between 2015-2020. Of the jobs represented in the graph,

fourteen of the twenty-two occupations will require a college degree for an entry-level position. In addition, of the science,

technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs in the nation, they are growing the fastest in Washington state. Source:

Washington Employment Security Department. http://1.usa.gov/15bN7BC

5 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project


What are Standards and Why are They


The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) refer to a

set of collaboratively developed learning standards for

English language arts and mathematics instruction from

kindergarten to 12th grade. Development and ongoing

support of the standards was led by the National Governors

Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

These standards are designed to provide teachers and

parents with a clear and concise understanding of the

expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening,

language and mathematics. CCSS is often referenced as

Career and College Ready Standards because CCSS are

aligned with those skills identified by research that students

need to succeed in college and a career.

Standards help build common understanding about how

the wide variety of skills and knowledge our students

learn, combine and work seamlessly together. For example,

how reading from multiple sources helps us build deeper

understanding of an idea; how reading and writing are

interlinked; and how math and measurement help identify

the value of scientific research. The rules of math are not

changing, however reading and comprehension skills

– across subject areas, including math - are critical. The

ability to communicate clearly through speaking, writing

and illustration is expanding to include a much broader

range of media for communicating thoughts and ideas,

which were rarely found in classrooms just a few years ago.

“The Common Core standards were the

product of a heavily researched, bipartisan

effort pioneered by the National Governors

Association in collaboration with the Council

of Chief State School Officers. The effort arose

from a broad recognition that the United States

was losing ground to many of its competitors

abroad because the learning standards as

applied in most states were pathetically weak.

The problem came to light when students who

sailed through weak state tests did significantly

worse on the rigorous federally backed

test known as the National Assessment of

Educational Progress.”

– New York Times editorial, April 20, 2013


“The rules of math are not changing, however

reading and comprehension skills – across

subject areas, including math - are critical.

The ability to communicate clearly through

speaking, writing and illustration is expanding

to include a much broader range of media for

communicating thoughts and ideas, which

were rarely found in classrooms just a few

years ago.”

The Common Core State Standards establish a higher bar of

performance expectations for students across all grade levels:

• The standards provide a map of the learning

students need and serve as a guide for monitoring

and supporting student progress from kindergarten

through graduation.

• The demand for raising performance expectations

reaches beyond the changes brought on by the 21st

century, having an impact on the social foundations

of our communities.

• The standards are aligned to the learning growth of

students who succeed in two- and four-year college

and technical training programs and move on to

careers following graduation from high school.

• These standards were established by aligning

expectations about what students need to know

at each grade level with the skills and knowledge

commonly held by successful students.

• These new standards require more of students and

have an impact on all content areas, recognizing

that skills such as creative thinking, communication,

collaboration and problem solving are critical life skills

we use in all content areas and in our personal lives.

The Common Core State Standards are not a set curriculum,

nor a federal government mandate. The suggested resources

in the standards document illustrate how they might be

used, but do not mandate instructional content.

The Common Core Standards do not identify how subjects

should be taught or what students should think or feel

about what they learn.

Published instructional materials may be aligned to the

Common Core Standards but alignment means those

materials cover the skills and knowledge identified in the

Common Core State Standards not that they are the best or

only learning resources that should be used.

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 6

The standards include substantive skills in analysis and

interpretation but they do not define what the results of

that analysis or interpretation should be or how a student

should feel about what s/he reads or discusses.

The Common Core State Standard’s official classroom debut

will occur in Washington in the 2013-14 academic year.

A separate set of standards for science – Next Generation

Science Standards (NGSS) – was released in Spring 2013 in

draft form for comment from educators across the country.

It is expected that the Superintendent of Public Instruction

will adopt the NGSS in fall 2013. Similar standards for

social studies and the arts are being developed through a

collaborative process involving teachers, content experts

and education support organizations, and are expected to

be available soon.

One significant change in CCSS is the clear identification of

cross-content skills and knowledge – recognizing that math,

reading and writing, scientific inquiry, historical knowledge

and collaboration are skills utilized in all areas of learning

not just isolated within a single subject. Reading and writing,

for example, are skills used across all content areas and

responsibility for teaching, practicing and improving these

skills – to a common standard – reinforces expectations

and facilitates students’ mastery. Expanding student

opportunities to master literacy and writing skills in the

context of specific content area studies will involve content

area teachers in building the literacy and writing skills most

critical to the context of learning in each subject.

A student working at or above the Common Core standards

is on track to developing the skills necessary to succeed in

college and a career. As we move forward, we should expect

to see much broader use of teaching practices that engage

students more deeply in active learning. For schools and

classrooms that have struggled in the past, we will expect

to see significant changes in student learning activities and

enhanced tools for linking classroom based assessments

– often referred to as “formative assessments” – with

learning progress.

As advocates for student success, Washington parents,

educators, and law makers should recognize that, while

these changes may be long overdue in many ways, it will

take time for students and their educators to incorporate

new practices, expand their skills and demonstrate the

level of proficiency associated with these new standards.

Because of this, it is anticipated that test scores may drop

when the new exams are first given. With time, and the

expanded information about student understanding,

parents and educators in Washington will have a clearer

picture of where students are struggling and how we can

better support their preparation for college and life in a

competitive global economy.


What are they? The Common Core State

Standards are a recently defined set of learning

standards for K-12 students specifically in math

and English language arts. Standards for science,

social studies and the arts are also being written.

Why do we have them? The learning standards

in use today have been re-written and revised

since the 1990’s - our overall results have not

improved significantly.

How are they different? The new standards

have been written to establish a common

learning pathway across the states that prepare

all students to be College and Career Ready

by establishing what students need to know

at each level from kindergarten to high school


Where did they come from? Writing of these

new standards was sponsored by the National

Governors Association. The standards were

written by a national committee of Math and

English language arts teachers, with assistance

from national education organizations and

support from state and federal departments of


7 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project


How Might Things Change?

Implementing the Common Core standards will take

time as they call for substantive shifts in the educational

experiences and content we provide our students. Among

the areas that require thoughtful implementation are

changes in the curriculum, expected changes in teaching

practice, adequate professional development to prepare

teachers and principals, the scope and function of

assessments and evaluation practices.

With the Common Core, one shift that will occur is

requiring students to explain how they solved a problem

– revealing that among the students in a class there are

multiple ways of getting to the right answer including but

not limited to memorizing math facts. For example, in

math, counting, grouping, and utilizing memorized facts

are often combined with visualized illustrations in their

heads to arrive at the solution. It is the process of problem

solving that is getting more attention today.

Furthermore, students may be asked to work in pairs or

small groups to create a display illustrating the various

ways members of their group have thought about and

found a solution for a problem, discovering for themselves

which methods worked best, which seemed to have

potential but were flawed, and why they believe they have

come up with the best answer. This dialog about the most

reliable ways of solving the problem moves the task from

simply calculating the right answer to thinking about

how the answer might be derived – thereby changing the

conversation from right or wrong to analysis of a problem

solving strategy. This involves students in more than just

thinking about math, science and literature as subjects

with right and wrong answers, and into the realm of higher

order thinking – that there may be multiple ways of getting

to the best answer that is a more accurate mirror of how

math and other problem solving challenges are handled in

real life.

Learning comes easiest and deepest when learners are

engaged in examining unknowns, exploring possibilities,

trying out possible answers, and communicating their

ideas. Common Core embodies an opportunity to revitalize

learning in our classrooms. The new standards realign our

traditional learning sequence maps while placing a stronger

emphasis on critical skills for success as the students in

our communities graduate from our schools and move

onto college, the workplace and the responsibilities of


Today literacy is more critical than ever, while our

definition of literacy is changing. We are enmeshed in a

continuous stream of text, images, and multi-media from

a diverse array of sources. Proficiency in this new literacy

requires us to engage in creative thinking, problem solving

and collaborative communications, requiring our students

be skilled in:

• Decoding and creating messages in multiple media;

• Working collaboratively with teams of individuals

from diverse backgrounds;

• Meaningfully filtering valuable information from

the continuous stream on their cell phones, tablets,

inboxes, social networks, and media devices; and

• Expanding their literacy skills to new forms of media

as they develop in the future.

Yet, we have a very real problem in that far too many of

our students demonstrate only very basic skills in our most

fundamental literacy – the ability to decode written words.

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 8

How Does This Change A Teachers Role?

We are in the early stages of what is expected to be a

long-term shift in instructional practice. The adoption

of new standards for Washington teachers and students

provides the guidelines for this shift, yet the changes that

occur in the classroom will happen primarily and most

significantly through the daily efforts of teachers. New

policies, instructional materials, performance measures,

leadership strategies and fiscal resources are unlikely to

have a significant impact – or the necessary effect – on the

classroom if teachers are not engaged in this critical work.

If we are to expect increased engagement

from our students, we will also need

to address increased engagement

and familiarization for teachers and

principals. Like classroom engagement,

engaging teachers and principals in

the planning and decision-making that

guides their professional efforts involves

– for many schools, administrators and

teachers – a change in organizational and

professional culture.

Such ongoing changes in the expectations for students

and the resources available to teachers will need to

be an inclusive, a deliberate, and an ongoing process

if widespread adoption and the necessary changes in

classroom instruction, environments, and resources are to

occur. Such changes will mean many new opportunities for

“Implementing the

Common Core standards

will take time as they

call for substantive

shifts in the educational

experiences and content

we provide our students.”

both teachers and students that will need to be addressed

locally in every district and school. The implementation

process mirrors and models a “collaborative inquiry”

approach. Rather than prescribing solutions, this approach

begins with asking questions.

Evolving Learning Environments

The methods and materials guiding learning in every

classroom have changed over the years and will continue to

change with the introduction of the Common Core.

We live in an environment in which technology surrounds

us in our homes, on the street, in

our pockets and in our classrooms.

Technology has changed the ways we

communicate and brought us into

continuous contact with a stream of

information, thus giving us access to an

endless web of interlinked information

resources, while often deluging us with

too much information. Textbooks and

teachers are no longer our students’

primary link to the world beyond the

neighborhood. The organization of

schools, the practice of teaching, and access to learning

are no longer limited by classroom time and resources and

prescribed access to web-based resources. We live in a world

in which technology-linked networks are increasingly

expanding our neighborhood.

The scale of the change envisioned by the

Common Core and the expectation of Career

and College Readiness provide multiple starting

points for the discussions about local solutions:

Who is teaching what to whom, where?

Who is learning what, how?

How do we differentiate teaching from learning?

What do we measure – mastery of knowledge or

depth of learning?

Who is responsible for the quality of teaching?

Who is responsible for the quality of learning?

When and how does the role of teachers shift –

are they now:

• Learning guides?

• Opportunity managers?

• Collaboration advisors?

• Resource managers?

• Developmental coaches?

In addressing these questions, other questions

arise about how to make these shifts to improve

teaching and learning:

• Can we improve just teaching or just


• Scale and scope – is this fantasy, mandate

or fate?

• How much do we have to agree in order to

move forward?

• Are we replacing or modifying our current


• Is equity just for students or do students get

equity priority over adults and systems?

• Does equity of opportunity = same


• How do we define same/equitable?

• Is an equivalent outcome the same as

equivalent support?

• Do equivalent offerings provide the same

level of outcome and support?

9 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project

Many find computers, tablets, and smart phones to be

user friendly and engaging. Others do not. If we are to

effectively employ this growing and evolving set of tools

to accomplish the shifts in teaching and learning needed

to accomplish our common outcome – that every student

graduates from high school ready to succeed in college

or career – we must address technology access and usage

challenges. Technology can help: it provides the network

and the information resources. But this effort will also

require the assistance of people who can serve as guides to

help students navigate unknown territory, open doors to

social networks and resources, fix the inevitable glitches,

address misunderstandings, and demonstrate ways to

manage the overload.

Much of the framework for the World Wide Web was

developed at colleges and universities. These resources

have been developed by the students who inhabited

our classrooms, followed our lessons, and completed

assignments designed by the teachers in our schools. They

were not all outstanding students but their efforts have

created a new environment for education that provides

us with many opportunities and resources to address our

most significant educational challenges.


How can we better utilize what we have

learned about student learning such as -

engaged learners are better able to respond to

complex challenges that involve both content

area knowledge and interpersonal skills?

Is rewriting the standards to reflect heightened

expectations enough? Shouldn’t we also

focus on:

• Instructional practice?

• Measuring progress and more effective


• Alternatives to established practice and


How do we assist in implementing these

standards without putting excessive burdens

on students, teachers, principals and families?

How can we most effectively address the gap

in expectations for both adults and students

that appears to dominate the culture of low to

median poverty schools and school systems?

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 10

What About Assessment and

Accountability Practices?

If we – as a country and state – are truly committed to

placing a higher value on a deeper set of cognitive

learning standards similar to those found in the highest

performing schools and countries, the Common Core has

to have an impact on testing and assessment.

These assessments and the resulting scores and expenses

are likely to receive substantial attention in the coming

years. It will be important to balance our desire for high

scores with the complexity of creating assessments that

provide reliable results that both measure progress and

help plan future learning in the critical skills identified

in these new standards. It is also critically important the

results are used in constructive and reliable ways and that

these assessments accurately measure how the efforts of

each state and school compare to each other.

Our current assessment systems have not proven to be a

reliable measure of a student’s

learning capabilities. Instead

they may be better at measuring

curriculum adaptability and

delivery. This may provide

useful data but does not tell us students.”

much about how to improve

learning for the 30 students in a

classroom. In fact, it tends to reinforce a passive approach

to learning, done to the students, not with or for them.

Substantial current research points to the need for

engagement in

learning and active

pursuit of personal

goals as key driving

elements in students’

short-term and

long-term learning

outcomes; in this case,

success in college and/

or a career. In this

regard, accountability

too is changing.

We are pushing our

assessments to move

from measuring

compliance with rules

and timetables to

measuring progress

toward and mastery

of learning outcomes.

“The shift to the heightened Common

Core standards also brings a change

in how we measure the progress of

This may seem like a minor distinction for traditionallyorganized

school districts, but it mirrors a major shift

in working environments as well as research on the

skills needed to thrive in social, economic and personal

domains. In the workplace, as well as in colleges and

universities, the core role has shifted from bodies in a

place performing a repetitive task or prescribed lesson

to individuals interacting to further their understanding

related to achievement of a common goal. This is the new

accountability for teachers and principals as well: How well

does one collaborate with others to drive student success?

How will one’s efforts be evaluated?

The heightened expectations, embedded in the Common

Core standards, bring with them a shift in the way we

measure student progress. Building on a shift begun

earlier – with the adoption of statewide standards and

the accompanying demand for assessments to measure

student progress on those standards – the shift to the

heightened Common Core standards also brings a change

in how we measure the progress

of students. Prior to standards,

student progress was measured

primarily by performance

on in-course assignments,

quizzes, and end-of-course

exams. Implementation of

standards called for assessments

measuring not just how students were doing in a course

but also how well they were doing compared to the

standards. As we shift to an increase in our expectations

for students, demand is growing for more equitable and

11 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project

accurate measures of student


Developing these assessments

is the work of two nationwide

educator consortia: Smarter

Balanced Assessment

Consortium (SBAC) and

Partnership for Assessment

of Readiness for College and

Careers (PARCC). Washington

State is a lead member of the

Smarter Balanced Assessment


Smarter Balanced is

developing two kinds of

assessments that will be

implemented in Washington

in the 2014-15 school year:

interim (benchmark) and

summative (year-end). Interim

assessments measure how

students are doing along the

way to meeting a standard

sometimes using a computeradaptive

method. These

assessments may be taken by

all students at multiple times during the school year to

measure students’ progress toward achieving the Common

Core standards. Summative assessments are given near the

end of the school year and are designed to capture what a

student has learned in a given course or subject area. These

assessments sum up and measure the full range of student

abilities on Common Core subjects. These assessments,

planned for students in grades 3-8 and 11, will replace the

state’s reading, writing and math exams. However, the

state has yet to decide if the 11th grade exam will factor

in a student’s graduation status like the state’s 10th grade

exams do now. Washington currently has end-of-course

exams in Algebra 1 and Geometry (primarily given in 9th

and 10th grades, respectively). Washington will be able to

develop its own math end-of-course exams using public

Smarter Balanced test items/questions.

What is a “Computer Adaptive


SBAC describes computer adaptive testing as: “Based on

student responses, the computer program adjusts the

difficulty of questions throughout the assessment. For

example, a student who answers a question correctly

will receive a more challenging item, while an incorrect

answer generates an easier question. By adapting to

the student as the assessment is taking place, these

assessments present an individually tailored set of

questions to each student and can quickly identify which

skills students have mastered. This approach represents a

significant improvement over traditional paper-and-pencil

assessments used in many states today, providing more

accurate scores for all students across the full range of the

achievement continuum.” http://bit.ly/yadn6B

“Smarter Balanced assessments make use of computer

adaptive technology, which is more precise and efficient

than fixed-form testing. Teachers, principals, and parents

can receive results from computerized assessments in

weeks, not months. Faster results mean that teachers can

use the information from optional interim assessments

throughout the school year to differentiate instruction and

better meet the unique needs of their students.

Smarter Balanced assessments will go beyond multiplechoice

questions and include short constructed response,

extended constructed response, and performance tasks

that allow students to complete an in-depth project that

demonstrate analytical skills and real-world problem

solving.” http://bit.ly/FOx7KZ

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 12


We’ve been hearing for several decades about threats

to the American way of life. Some examples of threats

to our democracy and economic prosperity include:

global economic competitiveness, outmoded and

inequitable teaching and learning environments, changing

demographics, widening income inequality and academic

achievement gaps, rapid technological advancements, and

radically different work environments that rely on brains

more than on brawn.

Looking at schools and districts across Washington and

throughout the United States we see broad diversity:

urban, suburban, rural, high income, low income, middle

income, high-performing, low-performing, organizationally

excellent, organizationally acceptable and organizationally

messy. We see a system grappling with the complexity

of a changing world in terms of widening resource gaps,

widely inconsistent outcomes and opportunities, shifting

expectations, and resistance to taking direct responsibility

for resolving these inconsistencies.

As shown throughout this document, Common Core is a

new resource tool, a collaborative realignment of our best

thinking about teaching and learning and an opportunity

that has been needed for many years. This is not a fad but

rather a multi-year collaborative effort in how we measure

school, teacher and student performance.

Perhaps the greatest benefit that will come out of this set

of common standards – or common understanding of what

our students need to know and be able to do – is that these

standards will be shared across schools, cities, counties,

districts, states. They provide a shared reference point for

conversations among educators, parents, communities,

states, and policy makers. From these common points,

collaboration can build and formal and informal sharing of

effective practices for teaching and learning will follow.

Education after all affects each one of us: our careers, our

families, our communities, our futures (individually and

collectively), our economic well-being, and our democratic

culture. It is the work of a society in all our multiple roles to

ensure every student receives a high-quality education that

prepares them for their future. n


Much of this effort will involve balancing between

tradition and changed expectations. We will need

to find the best balance. For this to work we will

have to build on the best we already have, discard

what isn’t working and develop some better

learning opportunities.

• Can we afford to be patient with the current

rate of improvement or do we need to

motivate substantive shifts in our school


• Are our methods for checking for progress

in building knowledge and skills outdated,

unreliable or less productive than needed?

• Can education shift from the long held

practices of teacher led group instruction

tied to time and calendar to an instructional

model based on individual student growth?

• How do we address shifts in the workplace

as well as contemporary citizenship which

require skills that have outpaced changes in

curriculum and graduation requirements?

• What are the best instructional practices to

prepare students for their future?

13 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project

Appendix A: What Steps Has Washington Been Taking?

Washington legislators have passed four key bills since

2009 that establish the foundation for current efforts to

improve student achievement. House Bill 2261 is the key

building block. This law:

• Set a new definition of “basic education”,

• Expanded the school day,

• Established a transparent school funding model,

• Developed an accountability system,

• Called for state implementation of full-day

kindergarten, and

• Set a target for a 24-credit graduation diploma

by 2018.

House Bill 2776, passed in 2010, addressed the technical

details of House Bill 2261. This law provided guidance

for the development of a new funding formula and the

phase-in of K-3 class-size reductions.

Another key piece of legislation in 2010 was passage of

Senate Bill 6696. This bill called for the implementation of

key provisions and reforms designed to:

• Accelerate student learning,

• Improve educator performance,

• Track college-readiness,

• Develop a robust accountability system, and

• Adopt the Common Core State Standards.

In 2011, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 5895 which

strengthens many aspects of the educator performance

evaluation system outlined in Senate Bill 6696 – including

the use of student growth measures in an educator’s


The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

(OSPI) and the State Board of Education (SBE) have also

taken actions to reform the state’s education system.

Most recently, OSPI submitted an application to the U.S.

Department of Education to waive the federally required

Adequate Yearly Progress requirements. Waiver approval

will allow OSPI and SBE to develop specific accountability

measures and performance metrics for Washington

schools and districts. In addition, the SBE is leading the

development of a new, transparent accountability system

capable of identifying, supporting and intervening, where

necessary in, the state’s highest and lowest achieving


Another key element with impact on efforts to strengthen

Washington’s schools is the McCleary ruling from the

Washington State Supreme Court in 2012. In this ruling on

a school funding lawsuit, the court found that Washington

state is not meeting its constitutional paramount duty to

“make ample provisions for the education of all children”

because the current funding levels do not fully meet all

requirements outlined in the state’s definition of “basic

education”. The McCleary court decision exerted significant

pressure on the state legislature and governor to provide

more resources for education. The 2013 legislature adopted

a biennial budget that increases K-12 education funding

by $1.03 billion dollars and forwards several new K-12

policy enhancements. The budget and new policies focused

on accountability; Science, Technology, Engineering

and Mathematics (STEM); college and career readiness;

and professional development to support rigorous new

teaching and learning standards. Some of the programs

and policies funded in the biennial budget include:

• $10 million for the state to provide assistance

for our most struggling schools (SB 5329); and

passage of SB 5491 funds the creation of a statewide

K-12 dashboard that will provide access to the

accountability measures used to monitor the

“health” of our educational system.

• $17 million in state investments at four-year state

institutions for the expansion of Science, Technology,

Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) enrollments.

• $2.2 million for an Academic Acceleration (HB

1642) policy that encourages students to enroll in

advanced placement courses in high school; and

implementation of the Common Core student

assessments developed with a multistate consortium

in English Language Arts and math in the 2014-15

school year. To provide a transition period to the

new assessments and accountability measures, the

legislature directed the State Board of Education

to establish performance scores for the new

assessments and required results from assessments

to be used for high school graduation beginning with

the class of 2019 (HB 1450).

• $15 million for training for teachers and principals

on the new evaluation system.

• $2 million for the Beginning Educator Support

Team program providing additional support for

the development of educators in the early stages

of their career.

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 14

Appendix B: Parents as Advocates

How Can Parents Help Their Children?

Arithmetic is still arithmetic – the rules have not changed nor

have the answers. What has changed is the recognition that

there are many ways students may get to that right answer,

that there is no exclusive formula. Imagine a family road trip

where you decide to count the number of red and blue cars on

the road. This may be a simple game of observation, trust and

accurate counting, but it comes with complications. Does a

pink car count as a red one? Is a metallic grayish blue car a blue

car? These finer points of counting and making judgments

about them, communicating about them, and working out

acceptable rules for variants are among the finer points of a

task that at first seems to be simple counting. This is math in

the real world and reflects the complications of applying math

to real problems. Talking about the logic of math (should

a pink car be counted as a red car?) can be as important in

problem solving as the calculations.

One of the areas where students struggle most in math,

and this happens at all levels, is understanding which rules

apply when and can result in a logical and accurate solution

– not always easy and part of why reading and language

comprehension is so important to success with math.

Talk about math, reason through solutions together. Let

your student teach you math, even if you already know

it – the process of thinking through the problem is more

important in the long run than the right answer every time.

The same holds true for reading at every age. Read to your

children and encourage them to read to you. Learning

that words contain magic in their meaning and that magic

comes largely from the context in which they are used

is one of the keys to both comprehension and writing.

Talking about what you read and hear is also important to

understanding what words, phrases, and whole stories are

all about.

Our brains are “wired” to try to understand the meaning

of things we read and hear. Substantial research has shown

that the more words pre-school students are exposed

to - through conversations, being read to, overheard in

the conversations of others, heard on the news, listening

to oral stories – the easier they will find learning to read.

Some students come to school with a mental vocabulary

(words they have heard in context even if they do not

understand what they mean) of 3,000 different words from

their pre-school years. Other students come with 7,000

words in their mental vocabulary. Imagine which students

have an easier time with learning to read. Research has also

shown that it does not matter whether those words are in

English or a language spoken in the home, what matters

most is that children hear the words in context and their

brains imagine what they might mean.

15 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project

What Can Parents Do to Help Their

Children with the Transition to CCR

and CCSS?

• The best thing parents can do to help their child

with this transition is to talk with them about their

dreams and aspirations and connect these goals to

school subjects and entry requirements. In addition,

parents are encouraged to talk to teachers and

guidance counselors to seek their advice on how to

help ensure their child is prepared for life after

high school.

• Talk to teachers and guidance counselors about your

student’s learning strengths and learning gaps.

• Explore career options with student using web tools

and talk about the jobs around your community.

• Recognize how school is different today and how it

is changing from your time in school, talk about the

challenges you faced, how you resolved them and

what could have been different?

• Understand assessments – learn the difference

between assessments that measure progress against

the standards, grades in a class and Grade Point

Average (GPA), ask a teacher or principal to explain

complex assessment reports – there is lots of

information there if you know what to look for and

what the numbers really mean.

• Regularly review the performance data provided by

your school about your student and about how the

school is performing overall.

• Ask questions of your student’s teachers, counselors

and principal.

• Recognize value of the formal learning that takes

place in school and informal learning that takes place

at home and in your community

• Build your student’s “College Knowledge”:

• Visit college campus with your middle school or

high school student – visit the library, museums,

student performances, even lectures.

• Talk about college – how college choices impacted

people you or your student knows.

• To learn more about careers and education

requirements required, look at websites such as:


How Do I Know If My Child Is Career

And College Ready?


“College Readiness: A Guide to the Field” is a tool developed

from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University that

presents three strategies for being college ready: academic

preparedness, academic tenacity, and college knowledge.

September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 16

Appendix C: List of Acronyms

CCR: College and Career Ready is a student who is ready

for college and career, can qualify for and succeed in

entry-level, credit-bearing college courses leading to a

baccalaureate or certificate, or career pathway-oriented

training programs without the need for remedial or

developmental coursework.

CCSS: Common Core State Standards is the name adopted

by the National Governors Association for the set of

standards for Math and English Language Arts developed

collaboratively by teachers and state education agencies

from across the country to identify skills and knowledge

benchmarks for each grade level from kindergarten to 12th

grade leading to college and career readiness.

NGSS: Next Generation Science Standards is the name

given to set of standards developed by scientists and

science teachers across the country, currently being

reviewed by additional teachers and educators, setting

learning standards for science education from kindergarten

through 12th grade.

PARCC: Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for

College and Careers is a consortium of 19 states plus the

District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands working

together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in

English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready

for college and careers. PARCC is one of two multistate

consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department

of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system

aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the

2014-15 school year.

Smarter Balanced: Smarter Balance Assessment

Consortium is a state-led consortium working to develop

next-generation assessments that accurately measure

student progress toward college- and career-readiness.

Smarter Balanced is one of two multistate consortia

awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education

in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the 2014-15

school year.

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

is an effort supported by educators, colleges and business

to improve the level of preparation of students for rapidly

expanding careers throughout the workplace, applying

skills in these areas through hands-on applications of skills

and knowledge in these areas.

STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and

Mathematics adds the creative arts to the other areas to

highlight skills in creativity and inventiveness critical in all

fields and careers.

17 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project

Appendix D: Additional Information & Resources

About Common Core Standards

Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core

State Standards: This three-minute video explains how

the Common Core State Standards will help students

achieve at high levels and help them learn what they need

to know to get to graduation and beyond.


Common Core Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.


Common Core Myths: http://www.corestandards.org/


Common Core in Washington: http://www.ReadyWA.org

Common Core State Standards Initiative: Building

on the excellent foundation of standards states have laid,

the Common Core State Standards are the first step in

providing our young people with a high-quality education.

It should be clear to every student, parent, and teacher

what the standards of success are in every school.


Achieving the Common Core: A rich collection of

information resources and links to additional resources

related to Common Core from Achieve – one of the

organizations assisting in development of the standards.


Standards for other Content Areas

Science: In a process managed by Achieve, with the help

of the National Research Council, the National Science

Teachers Association, and the American Association for the

Advancement of Science, states are developing the Next

Generation Science Standards. More information about

this effort can be found at: http://www.nextgenscience.org/

World Languages: The American Council on the Teaching

of Foreign Languages published an alignment of the

National Standards for Learning Languages with the ELA

Common Core State Standards. More information about

this effort can be found at: http://www.actfl.org/

Arts: The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards is

leading the revision of the National Standards for Arts

Education. More information about this effort can be

found at: http://www.arteducators.org/

About Common Core Assessments

Two consortia have been assembled to collaborate in

development of assessments for the Common Core Sate

Standards. At this time the consortia are focused on the

Math and ELA standards. Both Smarter Balanced and

PARCC are developing assessment systems aligned to

the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English

language arts/literacy and mathematics with the goal of

preparing K-12 students for college and career. However,

there are key differences between the two consortia. For

example, Smarter Balanced assessments will use computer

adaptive technology, while PARCC will use computerized

assessments that are not adaptive

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter

Balanced): A state-led consortium working to develop

next-generation assessments that accurately measure

student progress toward college- and career-readiness.

Smarter Balanced is one of two multistate consortia

awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education

in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the

Common Core State Standards by the 2014-15 school year.

Washington state is a member of the Smarter Balanced

consortia. http://www.smarterbalanced.org/

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College

and Careers (PARCC): A consortium of 19 states plus the

District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands working

together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in

English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready

for college and careers. PARCC is one of two multistate

consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department

of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system

aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the

2014-15 school year. http://www.parcconline.org/

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM): A group of 17 states

dedicated to the development of an alternative assessment

system. http://dynamiclearningmaps.org/

Resources for Teachers and

School Leaders

Engage NY: Developed and maintained by the New York

State Education Department (NYSED) to support the

implementation of key aspects of the New York State Board

of Regents Reform Agenda, including: the Common Core

State Standards. http://bit.ly/19aKmcw

Pedagogical Shifts demanded by the Common Core

State Standards: from engageNY: http://www.engageny.


September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 18

Khan Academy: A non-profit educational website created

to provide “a free world-class education for anyone

anywhere.” http://www.khanacademy.org/

Illustrative Mathematics: A community of educators

dedicated to the coherent learning of mathematics.

Illustrative Mathematics carefully vets resources for

teachers and teacher leaders and provide expert guidance

to states and districts working to improve mathematics

education. https://www.illustrativemathematics.org

The Teaching Channel: A video showcase of inspiring and

effective teaching practices in America’s schools. The video

library offers educators a wide range of subjects for grades

K-12 and information on alignment with the Common

Core State Standards. https://www.teachingchannel.org/

Resources for Understanding the Common Core State

Standards: An educator’s guide to websites, organizations,

articles, and other resources looking at the new system

of standards and how they will be assessed. http://www.


Resources for Parents and Students

Common Core State Standards: Shifts for Students

and Parents: A presentation by engageNY that provides

an overview of the instructional shifts that will occur as a

result of the shift to the Common Core State Standards.



The Futures Channel: A partner with schools around

the country as well as a wide range of publishers, science

centers, professional development service providers,

websites and more providing high quality real world

digital content to enhance their education offerings and

objectives. http://www.thefutureschannel.com

Resources for Policy Makers

Measures that Matter: A joint effort by Achieve and

The Education Trust to provide strategic and technical

assistance to states in creating college- and career-ready

assessment and accountability systems that ensure that

all students graduate from high school ready to succeed.


Future Ready Project: Achieve’s advocacy resource

center designed to provide research-based materials to

those communicating about the college- and career-ready

agenda in their states and communities.


Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC):

A nationally recognized leader in the field of College and

Career Readiness. EPIC provides research and tools to

empower states, districts, schools, and teachers to prepare

students for success beyond high school.


Sampling of Local Washington Efforts

The Road Map Project: A region-wide effort aimed at

improving education to drive dramatic improvement in

student achievement from cradle to college and career in

South King County and South Seattle. The project builds off

the belief that collective effort is necessary to make largescale

change and has created a common goal and shared

vision in order to facilitate coordinated action, both inside

and outside schools. The Road Map Project goal is to double

the number of students in South King County and South

Seattle who are on track to graduate from college or earn

a career credential by 2020. The Road Map is committed

to nothing less than closing the unacceptable achievement

gaps for low-income students and children of color, and

increasing achievement for all students from cradle to

college and career. http://www.roadmapproject.org/

The Washington State Office of the Superintendent

of Public Instruction: The primary agency charged with

overseeing K-12 public education in Washington state. Led

by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works

with the state’s 295 school districts to administer basic

education programs and implement education reform on

behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI is involved in efforts to implement in the Common

Core State Standards. http://www.k12.wa.us

19 September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project

Washington STEM: A leader in the movement to advance

STEM education, partnering with local and national groups,

and a growing multistate network. We aim to lead the

STEM charge in Washington State, and serve as a model

for innovative thinking and action for STEM organizations

nationwide. http://www.washingtonstem.org/

Delta High School: A small, public high school for

students living in the Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco

School Districts. At Delta, students are brought together

from a variety of backgrounds to create one collaborative

community. The faculty is dedicated to creating a highlypersonalized,

open, and trusting learning environment

for all students and their families. Students at Delta are

supported by teachers, advisors, and mentors that will

network them into the local STEM community and beyond.


Mathematics Education Project: The Mathematics

Education Project draws on research-based resources

to increase educators’ knowledge of mathematics and

pedagogy to improve student learning.


Teachers for a New Era: The University of Washington

is one of 11 universities selected for the Carnegie

Corporation’s Teachers for a New Era (TNE) program.

Through TNE, the College of Education and the College of

Arts and Sciences will work together to create a new model

for teacher preparation, and track graduates’ in-classroom

success as educators throughout their careers. http://


Washington State LASER: Part of the national LASER

project, Washington LASER helps school district initiate,

implement and sustain a standards-based, inquirycentered

science education program in grades K-12.


Washington MESA: Designed to increase the number

of underrepresented minorities in the mathematics,

engineering, and science-related professions, MESA’s

efforts are directed toward Washington middle- and

high-school students from these backgrounds.


September 2013 | Partnership for Learning | Model Secondary Schools Project 20

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