Secondary Education » Common Core State Standards & Smarter Balanced Assessments

Common Core State Standards & Smarter Balanced Assessments


CCSS MathThe standards call for learning mathematical content in the context of real-world situations, using mathematics to solve problems, and developing "habits of mind" that foster mastery of mathematics content as well as mathematical understanding. CCSS Math.

Estándares Estatales Comunes de Matemáticas 

Sexto Grado
Séptimo Grado
Octavo Grado


CCSS EnglishThe CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy help build creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, and communication.  CCSS English.

Estándares comunes estatales para las artes del lenguaje en español
Sexto Grado
Séptimo Grado
Octavo Grado
Noveno y Décimo Grado
Undécimo y Duodécimo Grado


The Next Generation Science StandardsThe Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)



The Future

Seeing the Future DocumentHow the Common Core Will Affect Mathematics and English Language Arts in Grades 3-12 Across America
-- the K–12 Center at ETS

Smarter Balanced

SBACThe new Smarter Balanced Assessments take the place of many STAR tests



Parent RoadmapParent Roadmaps: What parents can do to be effective ‘partners in change’ with the Common Core -- the Council of the Great City Schools

Artes del lenguaje en inglés

 Parents’ Guide to Student Success created by the National PTA, these are guides to CCSS English language arts/literacy and mathematics  EnglishMathinglés, matemática


Aspen Institute guide for Parents on the CCSSCCSS An Introduction for Families and other Stakeholders: this two-page flyer was developed by The Aspen Institute to explain what the standards are and why they are important for improving public education.
Una introducción para familias e inversores



Why are we making the change to Common Core?

In an ever-changing world, our students need better knowledge and tools to prepare them to compete in the global economy.  The need to audaciously confront this issue resulted in a remarkable collaborative effort—the promise of consistent, shared, and rigorous education standards for all students that align with college and work expectations –a new set of ambitious academic standards to set the foundation for even greater student growth and success. And, practitioners, content experts, teachers, researchers, and leaders in higher education and business all came together to make it happen. They are the clearest statements yet about the knowledge and skills that students need to master in order to be prepared for college and the workforce.

Is the shift to Common Core only taking place in MUSD?

These new Standards were developed by states and for states. The standards, now being implemented by more than forty-four states across the nation, were built upon strengths and lessons learned in states. They were informed by other top performing countries, and grounded in research and evidence.  Thanks to the unprecedented collaboration among states, young people—regardless of their background or where they live—will be taught to standards that once mastered, will have prepared them for college and career success.

Does the shift to Common Core State Standards only impact English and math?

English language arts and math were the subjects chosen for the Common Core State Standards because they are areas upon which students build skill sets which are used in other subjects. They are also the subjects most frequently assessed for accountability purposes.

  • in 2013, California Adopted Next Generation Science Standards: 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 here.
  • 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 here.
  • 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 here.

College and career readiness overwhelming focuses on complex texts outside of literature, these standards also ensure students are being prepared to read, write, and research across the curriculum, including literacy in history / social studies, science, and technical subjects.  Standards for content area literacy work in tandem with Anchor Standards to define college and career readiness expectations.

How do classes look different under Common Core?

The Common Core State Standards are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills students need in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level to ultimately be prepared to graduate college and career ready.  They were developed in consultation with teachers and parents from across the country so they are also realistic and practical for the classroom.  The standards establish what students need to learn, but they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.

Effective teaching is the crucial determinant of student learning and success.  Among MUSD's expected outcomes of implementing CCSS, is the continued development of a school culture where teachers embrace change through collaboration, seek to deepen the level of learning in their classrooms to prepare students for CCSS, and where administration and teachers promote trust and collegiality among staff members

The primary goal of CCSS is to teach critical thinking and problem solving. Students will become active learners – rather than passive – in a dynamic classroom environment.  They will become independent thinkers who can create informed opinions, critique the opinions of their peers and their world, defend their arguments with evidence, and communicate their points of view effectively.  On tests, they will be required to reason out the best answer, rather than memorizing the “correct” answer.  CCSS should require fewer topics but give teachers and students more time to explore the most important ones in greater depth. Students will develop a deeper understanding of key concepts, and be able to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.

The implementation of these standards promises to start engaging conversations, stimulate creativity in the classroom, help align expectations, and get the community involved.

How will CCSS change my school's state performance level, based on the results of statewide assessments?

The Standards were designed with great care to ensure that they were clear, consistent, rigorous, and relevant. All are undeniably important when it comes to preparing students to successfully meet the demands of college and the workplace.

In the spring of 2015 state testing and accountability of the school will be based in part on assessments built on the Common Core.  This change was precipitated by evidence that previous standards did not measure and predict college readiness and success.  Starting in 2016, under the new API formula, 60 percent of the scoring will come from standardized assessments, while 40 percent will assess students' college and career readiness, as evidenced by indicators such as graduation rates, a-g college entry course completion, and completion of Career Technical Education pathways.  Because of the changes in the state assessment, attempting to measure skills and content (as opposed to just content), we want our stakeholders to be aware that comparisons to past outcomes will not be applicable.

Will the change to Common Core affect my child's test scores?

Recent legislation passed by the state of California will impact STAR testing.  Parents should expect to see less standardized testing being administered to students on a yearly basis.  Students will still need to take the required test for graduation (CAHSEE) in California.  Additionally, students interested in applying to four year universities will continue to need to complete the SAT / ACT for college admissions.

Are students taking Common Core classes eligible for college?

Yes, students who successfully complete course work under Common Core will meet the a-g requirements of the UC / CSU system.  Importantly, they also will develop the habits of mind and dispositions needed to be successful once they are in college.

What does it mean to be "college and career" ready?

Students will read more complex texts, both nonfiction and fiction. They will learn to create written arguments using evidence from multiple texts. They will learn to gather evidence to defend their opinions. In middle school and high school, students will learn to apply their literacy skills to math, science, social studies and technical subjects. They will learn to read and write well across all subjects in preparation for college and careers. Although there is an extensive list of recommended texts, CCSS leaves most curriculum decisions in the hands of local educators. The only reading explicitly required in the CCSS is the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, a Shakespeare play and one play by an American dramatist.

Students will acquire the habit of mathematical thinking – a way of problem solving across all math courses. The foundation, which will begin in kindergarten and continue through 12th grade, will give students the building blocks to understand why and how math works in real-world situations. While memorization of math facts is still important, more emphasis will be placed on true comprehension. To demonstrate their depth of understanding, students will be required to explain in writing how they solved a math problem.

Will my child's privacy be protected?

As in the past, your child's privacy and safety is our utmost concern.  This will continue to be the case as we transition to the Common Core State Standards.  Testing information will be gathered and disseminated with the utmost care.  Our students' well-being is our priority.