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    Common Core State Standards Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a curriculum?

    For the purposes of this conversation, let’s define curriculum as Websters’ does: a set of courses. For example, the statement “Seattle Public Schools has a math curriculum” means SPS offers a set of math courses to its students. English Language Arts (ELA) has identified four basic components to curriculum: the standards for teaching and learning, the instructional approach, the instructional resources used for teaching and learning and the assessments to measure progress or mastery.

    Why did so many state departments of education and state legislatures adopt the Common Core?

    The National PTA puts it this way: “The standards form a solid foundation for the high quality education systems that states must build. If states adopt the standards and align their curriculum, assessments and professional development to the new standards, many more of their students will graduate with the skills they need to succeed in college or a career.”

    Additionally, many states adopted the Common Core State Standards because high standards that are consistent across states provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of clear expectations that are aligned to the expectations in college and careers.

    The standards promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to collaborate and compete with their peers in the United States and abroad. Unlike previous state standards, which were unique to every state in the country, the Common Core State Standards enable collaboration between states on a range of tools and policies.

    Whose decision was it for Seattle to use the Common Core State Standards?

    As a school district in Washington state, Seattle Public Schools is required by state law to teach the adopted state standards. Washington joined the initiative in 2009 and adopted the standards in July 2011.

    What testing is required by the Common Core State Standards?

    Washington state requires that all districts administer the Smarter Balanced Assessment system of next-generation assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics for grades 3-8 and 10/11 aligned to Common Core State Standards.

    These assessments are administered online, allowing for timely results that will provide information to teachers to help differentiate instruction. This assessment can be used to describe student achievement and growth of student learning as part of program evaluation and school, district, and state accountability systems. For more information, please visit our Smarter Balanced webpage.