Leveraging Opportunities for Instructional Excellence: Implementing the Common Core

SCUSD’s Unit of Study Approach

Sacramento City Unified School District. (n.d.). Common Core State Standards framework. Sacramento, CA: Author. Available for members at this link.

This document displays Sacramento City Unified School District’s (SCUSD) Common Core State Standards (CCSS) framework, which will help frame discussion during Session I of the meeting.

**Sacramento City Unified School District. (n.d.). SCUSD Unit of Study Activity Packet. Sacramento, CA: Author. Available for members at this link.

Sacramento City Unified School District has developed an English language arts (ELA) unit of study to guide third grade students through the reading and writing of informational texts. The unit identifies the topics teachers will cover, the standards the units will address (including the knowledge and skills the district expects students to develop), the assessments through which students will demonstrate their understanding, and a sequence of lessons designed to lead students towards the identified learning goals. The unit also specifies texts for teachers to use in teaching the unit and includes a rubric for the unit’s culminating assessment. To help meeting participants better understand the classroom instruction associated with this unit, we have also included the supporting materials listed below.

  • Sample Lesson Plans: Plans for Lessons 17 and 18 (from page 5 of the unit of study) describe the classroom activities that support the goals identified in the unit.
  • Sample Text: Cows in the Parlor is one of the expository texts teachers will use repeatedly throughout the unit. It provides an example of the kinds of texts students are asked to interact with as they seek to master the standards included within the unit.
  • Guiding Questions: We will use these questions to frame small group discussion about the unit during our meeting. As you review the unit in advance of the meeting, please do so with these questions in mind.

**No Author. (n.d.) Crosswalk of Common Core instructional shifts: ELA/literacy.Available at http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/058ED42A-2857-4747-8E41-39BF89BCC374/0/CommonCoreInstructionalShifts_ELALiteracy.pdf

This piece lists instructional shifts—six articulated by the New York State Department of Education and three outlined by Student Achievement Partners—required to implement the CCSS in ELA and literacy. These instructional shifts focus on building knowledge through access to informational and literary texts, text-based answers, and complex text. (The second page, excerpted from http://www.achievethecore.org/content/upload/Shifts%202%20pager_ 091313.pdf, provides more information on Student Achievement Partners’ three shifts in ELA.)

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010, June). Common Core State Standards for English language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects (pp. 10, 18, 22, & 25). Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. Available at http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI _ELA%20Standards.pdf

The CCSS College and Career Readiness (CCR) anchor standards for ELA and literacy in grades K-5 define the reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language expectations for students to be prepared for college and career success upon graduation. The CCR anchor standards and grade-specific K-12 standards are essential complements—the former providing broad foundational standards, the latter providing more specific grade-level standards—that together define the skills and knowledge that all students must demonstrate. These CCR anchor standards for ELA and literacy in grades K-5 emphasize the ability to comprehend complex literary and informational texts and communicate (verbally and in writing) arguments based on valid reasoning and relevant evidence.

Other District Approaches

Herold, B. (2013, October 25). Curriculum prompts new concerns in L.A. iPad plan. Education Week. 33(10)Available at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/10/25/10pearson_ep.h33.html

This article highlights recent developments in Los Angeles Unified School District’s plan to roll out iPads as a tool for implementing CCSS-aligned curricula and materials while providing access to technology for all students. Los Angeles is one of the first districts to test Person’s all-in-one, digital Common Core System of Courses currently in development. However, some teachers have criticized the program for the limited support materials it provides, including example lessons and security tools. In addition, the district faces a narrow window of time to roll out the plan after accepting a three-year contract with Pearson, reduced from the original five-years, in an effort to save money.

Gewertz C. (2013, March 26). Common-Core curricula spark teacher resistance. Education Week. 32(26)Available at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/03/27/26newyork_ep.h32.html

This article documents New York’s untraditional approach to CCSS implementation, which includes purchasing mathematics and ELA curricula from private vendors and posting free materials online as they are completed, as required through the state’s vendor contracts. The state used Race to the Top funds, which strongly encouraged open-source materials, to pay for vendor contracts and fund its EngageNY website, which houses CCSS curriculum and professional development modules. While New York is ahead of most states in its effort to design and implement CCSS-aligned curricula, professional development, and related assessments, some teachers believe students will not be ready for the state-developed tests coming in November 2013. State officials respond that educators have little reason for shock now, as the state announced in December 2010 that they would test students in grades 3-8 on the CCSS this year.

**This document is considered a priority reading.