Common Core State Standards

  • David Hoffman

    Dear Island Park Families:

    I hope that you had a wonderful and safe Winter Break and that this new year finds everyone healthy and ready to get back to work. 

    It’s hard to believe that even though we just started 2015 there is already talk about who might be seeking the presidency in 2016. Accordingly, don’t be surprised if you start hearing politicians, on both the local and national level, addressing school issues such as common core standards while assigning both positive and negative culpability for their implementation. 

    Washington State adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2011 with full implementation beginning this current school year. As a parent, you may be wondering “What are these standards expecting my child to learn and do?” I am hopeful the brief information below provides more clarity concerning the standards and how they will impact your children. Accompanying links will provide you with more complete information.

    CCSS were developed over several years by a consortium of political, business and educational leaders from forty-eight states (contrary to what you may have heard, they were not a federal mandate nor did they originate from Congress) in an effort to develop consistent, real world learning goals that ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, are graduating from high school prepared for college, career and life.     (

    The Mercer Island School District is currently involved in a process of updating our curriculum and programs to reflect these standards. This past year we adopted a new English Language Arts Program (Mondo Bookshop) in grades K-2 and the CCSS edition of Math Expressions in grades 3-5. A process for a math adoption for K-2 and ELA in grades 3-5 has already begun with the goal that these materials will be in place for the 2015-16 school year. Our Writer’s Workshop program, including units of study in narrative, opinion, and informational text, is in place and was developed for the CCSS. 

    In the area of English Language Arts, the main instructional shifts that have occurred with the new standards are:

    1. Regular practice with complex texts and their academic language.
    2. Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both literal and informational.

    For more information on shifts in ELA you can visit: 

    In the area of Mathematics, key instructional shifts include:
    1. Greater focus on fewer topics.
    2. Coherence: Linking topics and thinking across grade levels.
    3. Rigor: Pursuing conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application with equal intensity

    For more information on the shifts in Mathematics you can visit:

    If you would like to read the standards, you can find them in multiple formats by visiting:

    Finally, NPR recently ran a very informative series that provides a real and thoughtful perspective on the new standards and how teachers and schools are addressing these shifts. They are very much worth listening to if you have an interest in this topic.

    Part 1: The New Colossus 
    Part 2: The High Achievers 
    Part 3: The Struggle over Struggle 
    Part 4: Difficult, Dahl, Repeat 

    I hope you find all of the above information helpful. Thank you for your continued support!  Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or me if you have questions about curriculum or the common core standards. 


    David Hoffman