Common Core & PARCC
Massachusetts is one of 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and Department of Defense schools that have agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and mathematics. In March 2011, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards as the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
The National Education Association has been an integral partner in the development of these standards. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel stated, “NEA believes that this work on common standards has the potential to provide teachers with far more manageable curriculum goals. Their broadness allows teachers to exercise professional judgment in planning instruction that promotes student success.”
Partnership for Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC)
Massachusetts is one of 21 states, the District of Columbia and one territory working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math based on the Common Core State Standards. These assessments are designed to determine whether a student is college or career ready by the end of high school, to mark the student’s progress toward this goal from Grade 3, and to provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support.
ASSESSING COMPREHENSION AND COMMUNICATION IN ENGLISH STATE-TO-STATE FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS (ACCESS)
Federal and state laws require that all English language learners (ELLs) be assessed each year to determine their performance on a six-level scale and to measure their proficiency in reading, writing, listening to and speaking English. Until the 2012-13 school year, the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA) was used for this purpose. ACCESS is replacing MEPA.
This page will be updated as new information from USED, DESE, school districts and local associations becomes available.
BetterLesson offers more than 3,000 free Common Core-aligned lessons by teachers for teachers. New lessons are added each week.
MASS EDUCATORS TO GIVE INPUT ON PARCC: Retired Cambridge Rindge & Latin School math teacher Peter Mili, Wachusett Regional High School biology teacher Robert Becker and Natick High School English teacher Camille Napier Bernstein are representing the MTA on a national initiative aimed at giving educators a voice in the development and implementation of PARCC.
Sample PARCC items in ELA and math: www.parcconline.org/computer-based-samples
Parent and educator information on PARCC from DESE: http://www.doe.mass.edu/parcc/
A Journal of Staff Development article
recommends free websites that can serve as resources for teachers and administrators designing curriculum units and lessons aligned to the Common Core. (Staff development expert Kim Marshall recommends this article in his publication, Marshall Memo #97
Other resources include:
MTA in Action
MTA is working with NEA to develop educator-friendly materials to assist with district alignment, textbook selection, teaching strategies and assessment practice guided by the three big shifts in English language arts and mathematics instruction under the new standards. Please visit this toolkit regularly for updates.
MTA Today editorial by President Paul Toner: "Educators should lead in implementing new standards and assessments"
From the NEA
The National Education Association and its members have played an integral role in the development of the CCSS. The NEA has created a 50-member CCSS Cadre to help vet and develop materials for members to use in their schools and districts. The first publication by this group is the NEA Common Core State Standards Toolkit, an interactive PDF with links to many useful tools related to curriculum alignment, teaching strategies and professional learning.
Department of Education Documents
The DESE website includes the Massachusetts ELA and Math Curriculum Frameworks, which incorporate the CCSS and add pre-kindergarten standards. In addition, there are model curriculum units in both ELA and math, as well as units in history and science that illustrate how to embed literacy into those content areas. Common Core State Standards: http://www.doe.mass.edu/candi/commoncore/ Information on implementing the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics: http://www.doe.mass.edu/candi/commoncore/MathDivingDeeper.pdf Information on implementing the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy: http://www.doe.mass.edu/candi/commoncore/ELADivingDeeper.pdf Model Curriculum Project: http://www.doe.mass.edu/candi/model/ A link to PARCC's website: http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/parcc/ Information on ACCESS, the new assessment for English Language Learners that is replacing MEPA: http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/access/ College and Career Readiness: http://www.doe.mass.edu/ccr/ DESE PowerPoint on PARCC DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester on the Initial Discussion of Plan for Administering MCAS and PARCC Student Assessments (Sept. 13, 2013 memo)
PBS News Hour Stories on Common Core and PARCC
"PBS NewsHour" aired the first of a two-part story about the Common Core State Standards on August 13, 2013.
"In Defining What Public School Students Should Know, Teachers Wonder 'How?" is a seven-minute video that illustrates how some teachers are changing their practice and students are changing the way they learn. According to PBS, "In the past, public school standards varied state to state. With backing from the federal government, some governors and superintendents collaborated on a national Common Core. But they define only the what – what kids should know, not how they should be taught."
"Can a Computerized Test Measure Complex Common Core Skills?" is the second part of the story. The five-minute video, which aired on August 14, 2013, describes how student assessments will change to focus on higher-order thinking skills and how teachers may adapt their assessment of student learning, especially for non-tested skills such as speaking and listening.
WestEd Comparison Analysis In math, the study found there is a 96 percent full or partial alignment between the two sets of standards, with at least one partial alignment between each of the Massachusetts standards and the CCSS. The basic concepts and topics that typically define the mathematics domain are covered by both sets of standards. In ELA, the study found that there is a 74 percent full or partial alignment between the two sets of standards, with at least one partial alignment between each of the Massachusetts standards and the CCSS. CCSS more consistently cover depth of knowledge demands at the recall, basic application and strategic thinking levels, provide more detail with regard to learning expectations and are more specific in providing pedagogical guidance for instruction.
The report is available here.
ACHIEVE THE CORE
Student Achievement Partners is an organization working with NEA and AFT – among other partners – to assist educators in adopting the Common Core. There are a number of useful documents available at www.achievethecore.org, including the Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards and Alignment Documents, http://www.achievethecore.org/leadership-tools-common-core/aligning-materials/. Get the most recent tweets and emails from Achieve the Core. Ed Source article, "Common Core Poses Big Challenge for Students, Big Opportunity for Teachers" explains some of the CCSS challenges that California educators have identified for English language learners and provides some suggested strategies.
MTA members with questions about the Common Core, PARCC or ACCESS may send an email to CCSS@massteacher.org.