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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards: Next Steps

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:May 14, 2010

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with a revised process and schedule for reviewing and potentially adopting the K-12 Common Core Standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The revised process and schedule replaces the one I presented to you this past January, and is designed to ensure a rigorous and transparent review of the standards prior to asking the Board to consider adopting them this summer. The federal rules for our Race to the Top proposal require that we specify a date by which the Board will vote on the standards. In order to receive the full number of points for this section of our proposal, the Board must take a vote by August 2, 2010.

Assuming that a final draft of the Common Core Standards is released by the end of this month, I propose that the Board adopt the following timeline and process for voting on adoption of the Common Core Standards. June 1, 2010:

  • I will invite public comment on the Common Core Standards by posting them on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website. For both ELA and mathematics, there will be a link to an online survey that asks respondents to make a holistic assessment whether the Common Core Standards for that subject are: (a) equivalent to, (b) more rigorous than or (c) less rigorous than our current Massachusetts standards for ELA and mathematics (2001 and 2000, respectively). This survey will also have space for respondents to provide written reasons for their judgments.

By June 15, 2010:

  • I will appoint two independent expert panels, one for ELA and one for mathematics, composed of PreK-12 educators and representatives from higher education and the business community, to review the Common Core Standards and report back to the Board whether they find that they are: (a) equivalent to, (b) more rigorous than, or (c) less rigorous than our draft revised Massachusetts standards for ELA and mathematics (2009 and 2010, respectively) and the reasons for their judgments.
  • In addition to the panels, I will secure one or more experts from outside of Massachusetts to compare the Common Core Standards to the Massachusetts draft revised standards in ELA and mathematics and report their findings.

Board meeting on June 22, 2010:

  • The Department will compile the results of the public comment/online survey and report the results to the Board.
  • The expert panels will report their findings to the Board.
  • The Board will discuss the Common Core Standards and the reports.

Special Board meeting on or before August 2, 2010

  • The Board will vote on adopting the Common Core Standards.

July - September 2010:

  • I will reconvene the Curriculum Framework review panels for ELA and mathematics that created the 2009 and 2010 drafts to discuss the Common Core Standards and make recommendations on adding unique Massachusetts standards or other sections, as needed, to the Common Core Standards. The Memorandum of Agreement that the Governor and I signed with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association specified that unique state standards could comprise up to 15% of the full complement of standards the Board ultimately adopts.

September 2010 Board meeting:

  • I will present the Curriculum Framework review panels' recommendations for any additional standards to the Board for discussion and ask that the Board release these recommendations for public comment.

September - October 2010:

  • We will solicit public comment on the recommendations through an online survey and the Board will review comments at the October Board meeting.

November 2010 Board meeting:

  • The Board will vote on adding the recommended standards to the Common Core. The resulting documents will be the new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

January 2011 - June 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. Department staff and our 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 English language arts and mathematics MCAS tests to these standards. By the end of the 2011-2012 school year, we will expect all districts to have aligned their curricula to these new standards.

Last Updated: May 20, 2010
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