Common Core

Dear Thomas Hart Families,

Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee as I briefly outline an incredible shift in education for your child, and our effort to make this a powerful opportunity for all students. In order to explain the shift, I would like to give you some background as it relates to Common Core State Standards.

As you may know, Common Core will replace the current California content standards starting with the 2014-2015 school year. For the first time ever, our students will learn the same standards as students across the nation. Parents, educators, content experts, researchers, national organizations and community groups from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia all participated in the development of the standards. The new standards are rigorous, research-based and designed to prepare every student for success in college and the workforce.

I encourage you to watch this brief three-minute video if you'd like to learn more about Common Core and visit our district's website to keep informed of our efforts and updates.

Please click here for a chart that explains the school district's Common Core implementation timeline.

Assessment Change
Common Core's rigor will be reflected in assessments that emphasize performance assessment and critical thinking. The new computer-based testing, Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP), is administered by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and will replace the current Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program. This is currently set to start in the 2014-2015 school year.

However, it is important to note that pending legislation could alter the assessment plan. Assembly Bill 484 calls for portions of the STAR program to be put on hold this school year while educators pilot MAPP and prepare for Common Core. This has successfully passed the House and Senate and it awaiting decision from Gov. Jerry Brown. He has until Oct. 13 to pass or veto the legislation.

From Goals to Action
As a district, we are collaborating and engaging all educators in this process. We have created a Theory of Action, a system of shared practices and beliefs that guide learning and produce results.

Our Theory of Action, as written, is that IF we:
  • Systematically implement the Common Core and monitor every classroom's use of the district-adopted standards-based curriculum, research-evidenced effective instructional practices, metacognitivie thinking strategies (thinking about your thinking) and formative assessments;
  • Employ a continuous improvement model that uses disaggregated (multiple points of data) student achievement data results to plan and intervene; 
  • Continue to develop outstanding staff who are effective educators and culturally competent;
  • Develop skillful instructional leadership at all levels of the system;
  • Work collaboratively to engage our families and the community as major partners; and
  • Believe that ALL students will learn and achieve at higher levels

THEN, all students will significantly increase their academic performances and the achievement gap will be eliminated.

What does this mean for your child's education?

During back-to-school night, you may have already heard from our teachers. Common Core will give students the opportunity to use more:

  • critical thinking skills or increased rigor
  • creativity
  • time to dive deeper into content
  • collaboration among peers
  • college and career readiness skills

We will have a short Common Core presentation from our district instructional coach, Suzanne Smith, at our Oct. 9 principal's coffee at 10 a.m. in the library. Please bring any questions you may have to this meeting. 

Thank you for your time and support.

Warm regards,

Terry Conde