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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Progress Report on the Common Core State Standards Initiative

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed. D., Commissioner
Date:January 15, 2010

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I write to update you on the progress of the Common Core State Standards Initiative and inform you about our proposed timeline for your review of the standards and solicitation of public comment on them. In spring 2009, the Governor and I signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA) that committed the Commonwealth's support to the development of K-12 internationally benchmarked, rigorous Common Core Standards in English language arts and mathematics aligned to college and career expectations. Information on this state-led effort, which includes 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia, is posted at Common Core State Standards Initiative. You will recall that the Department was in the process of refining our standards when the Common Core initiative was announced. In light of this announcement, we deliberately coordinated our state effort with the Common Core effort.

In February 2010, CCSSO and NGA will release public drafts of the K-12 Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and K-12 Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and will be accepting public comment. We will send copies of the draft Standards to you when they are available so that you may make comment on them if you choose to do so. Our understanding is that CCSSO and NGA will release a final version of the Standards documents in March 2010.

Massachusetts has played a key role in the development of these standards. A member of this Board, Sandra Stotsky, serves on the Validation Committee for the English Language Arts standards; six of our staff members were invited by CCSSO and NGA to serve on the Common Core State Standards Development Teams; and we have asked 14 Massachusetts scholars and educators to contribute their expertise to reviewing successive drafts in order to shape our written comments to CCSSO and NGA. I have enclosed a list of the educators and staff members who have been involved in Core Standards reviews during the past year. The deep involvement of Massachusetts in this effort is important for two reasons. First, our existing standards are considered the best in the nation and we want the Common Core Standards to be every bit as challenging. Second, adoption and statewide dissemination of the Common Core Standards is a key component of our Race to the Top application.

We are planning a public process for statewide dissemination of the standards and discussion about them. We will collect and summarize public comment in anticipation of your vote on adoption in fall 2010.

Plan for Reviewing the K-12 Common Core State Standards

February-March 2010: CCSSO and NGA will first release drafts, then final versions of the K-12 Common Core State Standards. At each stage in the process, the Department will notify principals, superintendents, statewide professional associations, and other interested parties that the standards are available on the Common Core State Standards Initiative website. Department staff and the existing Curriculum Framework Review Panels for Mathematics and English Language Arts will compare the K-12 Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics with our current standards and new drafts in those subjects, identify where differences or gaps exist, and determine whether the Common Core Standards need to be supplemented with any unique Massachusetts standards to maintain our historic commitment to challenging standards. The Memorandum of Agreement that the Governor and I signed with CCSSO and NGA specified that unique state standards could comprise up to 15% of the full complement of standards the Board ultimately adopts.

April 2010: The K-12 Common Core Standards (including any supplementary unique state standards) will be presented to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for an initial discussion.

May 2010: I will ask the Board to vote to release the standards for public comment. Following the vote the Department will post the K-12 Common Core Standards and any supplementary Massachusetts standards on our website.

June-September 2010: The Department will solicit public comment on the strengths and limitations of these standards through the use of a web-based survey tool. In addition, we will conduct six regional forums for local K-12 educators/higher education faculty and four other forums for legislators, business, and community groups to build awareness and solicit comment on the Common Core Standards. The Department will compile and analyze input from the survey and forums. If necessary, our staff will make revisions to the 15% unique Massachusetts standards at this time.

October-December 2010: The final versions of the PreK-12 Massachusetts Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts will be presented to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for your further consideration and a vote to adopt them in the fall of 2010.

Assuming there is substantial (85 percent) overlap between the Massachusetts and Common Core standards, then adoption of the Massachusetts standards will represent adoption of the Common Core standards.

2011-2012: We will post the newly adopted standards on our website, publicize them statewide, and conduct regional statewide professional development sessions about them at the District and School Assistance Centers and other venues. Our staff and assessment contractor, Measured Progress, will review item banks to evaluate the alignment of existing items to the Common Core Standards, and will align any newly developed items for MCAS English language arts and mathematics to these standards. By the 2011-2012 school year, we will expect all districts to have aligned their curricula to these new standards.

Enclosure:

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2009-2010 Massachusetts Common Core Standards Review Committees and Department Staff Serving on Common Core Development Teams


Last Updated: January 21, 2010
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