New Jersey and California Press On With Common Core

By Catherine Gewertz — July 10, 2014 2 min read
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In the high-drama world of the common core, it’s the dropouts and opponents that nab the headlines. To break up that monotony, we offer California and New Jersey, which moved ahead this week in no-nonsense fashion to solidify their embrace of the new standards.

The New Jersey state board of education re-adopted the common standards in math and English/language arts as part of a broader re-adoption of standards in six subject areas. It also adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. The California board adopted its first English/language arts framework based on the Common Core State Standards in that subject.

New Jersey reexamines its standards every five years, and the board decides on readoption after public input and a review by the state department of education. Its July 9 vote covered English/language arts, math, science, social studies, visual and performing arts, health and physical education, and world languages. The two areas not covered are careers and technology, and those will be reviewed later this year, department officials said.

The board re-adopted the common core in math and English/language arts even though it originally adopted them only four years ago; no changes were proposed to the standards, officials said in a statement.

On the Left Coast, the California board’s vote on July 10 reflects two firsts: the state’s first English/language arts framework based on the common core, and the first time any state has combined guidelines for both English/language arts and English language development in one document.

The framework is in final draft form on the department’s website; it plans to update this document to the approved version shortly.

Included in the framework are an overview of the standards, and content and pedagogy guidance broken down into grade bands. The documents&mash;running to hundreds of pagefs—cover instructional strategies for teachers, criteria for evaluating instructional materials for quality, and assessment of the standards. They offer resources such as excerpts from lessons that illustrate specific teaching approaches.

An appendix, written by former National Council of Teachers of English president Carol Jago, offers reflections on the key role of literature in the English/language arts classroom, a document that appears to be something of a response to critics who contended that the common core’s stepped-up emphasis on nonfiction reading pushes classic works of fiction out of the curriculum. The appendix links teachers to websites that list scores of award-winning books for children and young adults.

The frameworks were created by a team of educators and literacy experts under the guidance of the state Instructional Quality Commission, officials said.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.