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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Adoption of the New Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy, Incorporating the Common Core State Standards, and the New Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics, Incorporating the Common Core State Standards

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
December 10, 2010

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Purpose

The purpose of this memorandum is fourfold:

  1. Present a brief history of our revision process for the frameworks and a summary of the public comment received between October 19 and December 1, 2010, regarding the recommended additions to the Common Core State Standards, which the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted in July 2010;
  2. Provide a draft of the proposed new Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy and the proposed new Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics, which include both the Common Core State Standards and additional, unique Massachusetts standards and features;
  3. Describe the steps we will take to transition MCAS from our existing frameworks to the new frameworks over the next several years; and
  4. Recommend that the Board adopt the proposed new frameworks this month, so that districts have sufficient time to fully align curriculum and instruction to the standards contained in those documents by the 2012-2013 school year.

Background

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education began reviewing and revising the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework (2001 and 2004 Supplement) and the Mathematics Curriculum Framework (2000 and 2004 Supplement) in 2007 and 2008 respectively. We convened review panels of about 35 preK-16 educators, parents, and business and community representatives in each discipline to make recommendations for revised content and formats of the documents. As these state panels were working, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced in the winter of 2009 an initiative to develop Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics that would emphasize college and career readiness. In the spring of 2009, Governor Patrick and I signed agreements to support these development efforts with the caution that we would accept no standards that were not equal to our own in rigor and comprehensiveness.

To ensure that the Common Core State Standards Initiative produced standards that would be worthy of adoption in Massachusetts, our English language arts and mathematics staff collaborated closely with the Common Core writing teams throughout the 2009-2010 school year. We provided drafts of our revisions in progress as well as advice on the content, wording, and organizational structure of the Common Core standards. Massachusetts in fact had a profound influence on the concepts, wording, and overall structure of the final documents published by the Common Core State Standards Initiative in June 2010.

On July 21, 2010, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to replace the 2001 Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework and the 2000 Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework and their 2004 Supplements, contingent upon augmenting and customizing the Common Core within the 15 percent allowance specified in our agreement with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

From August through mid-October 2010, we focused on deciding which additional standards and features would clarify and enhance the Common Core standards. During this phase we reconvened the Curriculum Framework Revision Committees and the Common Core Review Panels to suggest additions and worked collaboratively with Department of Early Education and Care staff and early childhood specialists to draft pre-kindergarten standards designed to provide a strong foundation for the Common Core kindergarten standards. In October 2010, the Board of Early Education and Care, which has the authority to approve pre-kindergarten standards, voted to release these standards for public comment, as our Board did for the kindergarten through grade 12 additions.

We are now ready for the final deliberations about adopting new standards for English language arts and mathematics. On December 14, 2010, the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care will vote on the adoption of the pre-kindergarten standards. One week later, on December 21, I will ask you to adopt the proposed new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards and Massachusetts augmentations to the Common Core.

Public comment survey and forums

During late October and November 2010, we gathered comments and analyzed the results of the following four online surveys relating to the proposed additions:

  • Survey on the Proposed New Massachusetts Pre-Kindergarten Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics
  • Survey on the Proposed Massachusetts Kindergarten-High School Additions to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; *
  • Survey on Proposed Model High School Mathematics Courses (based on the Common Core High School Standards presented by conceptual categories); and
  • Survey on Proposed Massachusetts K-12 Additions to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.*

Note: The surveys indicated with an * also asked about the usefulness of special features that are included in our existing frameworks such as the Guiding Principles, the Glossary of Terms, and the English Language Arts Author Lists, and the level of interest in including these features in the proposed new frameworks.

To encourage participation in the various surveys, we contacted superintendents, principals, curriculum coordinators, institutions of higher education, and professional organizations and provided links to the surveys. Public forums and network meetings were also held throughout the state. The Department of Early Education and Care convened 16 public forums presented by EEC and ESE staff. These forums were attended by over 550 people from licensed centers, Head Start programs, public preschools, family child care professional organizations, and higher education.

Summary of public comment

Pre-kindergarten standards Overall the feedback received at the EEC/ESE forums was positive. Early childhood educators noted that the standards will work well with the 2003 Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences and that the standards would help clarify expectations for curriculum in center-based, home-based, and public preschool programs and public pre-kindergarten programs.

Mathematics We received 194 responses to the Mathematics Public Comment Surveys: 70 for pre-kindergarten, 100 for K-12, and 24 for the high school courses. The majority of these responses were from individuals and the others represented groups or organizations ranging from fewer than 10 to over 100 individuals. The overwhelming majority of comments on pre-kindergarten standards supported adopting the proposed additional standards, with about 8 percent recommending edits. Similarly, at the K-High School level, the majority approved of the standards and additional features (guiding principles, glossary, and the development of guidance for connecting mathematics and literacy) as proposed, with 9 percent suggesting edits. About 16 percent of the comments suggested that there should not be any additions to the CCSS at all. Of the 24 responses on the subject of high school courses, about 87 percent agreed that the model courses in the two pathways present a logical progression from the grade 8 Common Core standards and that the two pathways provide adequate background to prepare students for fourth year advanced courses.

English Language Arts and Literacy We received 184 responses to the English Language Arts Public Comment Surveys: 95 for pre-kindergarten and 89 for K-12. The majority of these responses were from individuals and the others represented groups or organizations ranging from fewer than 10 to over 100 individuals. The overwhelming majority of comments on pre-kindergarten standards supported adopting the proposed additional standards, with about 8 percent recommending edits. Similarly, at the K-12 level, the majority approved of the standards and additional features (updated guiding principles, glossary, recommended author lists and the development of new guidance for connecting mathematics and literacy) as proposed, with about 9 percent suggesting edits.

A more detailed analysis of the surveys is available.

The contents of the proposed new Massachusetts Frameworks

The new Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics, Grades Pre-kindergarten to High School, Incorporating the Common Core State Standards contains:

  • Introduction (highlights the revision process and key improvements and differences from the current framework)
  • Updated Guiding Principles (describe strong mathematical programs and show a strong connection to the Mathematical Practices)
  • Mathematical Practice Standards (adopted from the Common Core)
  • Content Standards (include both Common Core State Standards and additional Massachusetts standards to bring a stronger coherence and clarity), pre-kindergarten to high school
  • Model high school pathways and courses (two pathways - traditional and integrated, with three courses each and two advanced model courses, options for a fourth year of mathematics)
  • Common Core Sections on the Standards and Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners
  • References
  • Updated Glossary

The new Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy, Incorporating the Common Core State Standards contains:

  • An Introduction (highlights the revision process and key improvements and differences from the current framework)
  • Updated Guiding Principles
  • Common Core State Content Standards, kindergarten to high school
  • Additional standards that augment the Common Core, pre-kindergarten to high school
  • Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
  • Common Core Sections on the Standards and Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners
  • References
  • Updated Glossary
  • Updated Author Lists

Transitioning MCAS to the new frameworks

We expect districts to fully align curriculum and instruction to the new frameworks by the 2012-2013 school year. This timeline provides districts time to identify specific changes they will need to make to their current instructional programs this year (2010-2011), to begin implementing those changes next year (2011-2012), and to complete implementation the following year (2012-2013). Changes will include phasing out instruction on standards not included in the new frameworks and phasing in instruction on standards contained in the new frameworks but not contained in the existing ones. We anticipate that in spring 2013, MCAS ELA and Mathematics assessments will be based exclusively on the standards contained in the new frameworks. We have already alerted districts to the fact that MCAS ELA and Mathematics assessments this spring (2011) will be based exclusively on standards contained in our current frameworks.

In determining the basis for the 2012 MCAS ELA and Mathematics assessments, we have three objectives in mind: (1) to identify a set of standards upon which districts can plan a full curriculum; (2) to assess students on standards contained in the new frameworks that we can reasonably expect will be taught next year; and (3) to identify a set of standards that will result in only minor changes to current MCAS test specifications. To ensure the comparability of the results of the 2012 assessments to results from previous years, we must make only modest changes to our current test specifications for the 2012 assessments.

In order to meet these objectives, which will encourage and support districts in transitioning to the new frameworks beginning next year, we plan to base MCAS ELA and Mathematics assessments in 2012 on standards that are common to our existing frameworks and the new frameworks-the intersection of the two documents. Depending on the grade and subject, we may also need to test a small number of standards that are contained in the existing frameworks but not in the new frameworks. We intend to provide districts, early in 2011, a list of the standards that are common to the existing and new frameworks as well as those standards that are unique to the existing frameworks and that may also serve as the basis for the 2012 assessments.

Commissioner's recommendations and next steps

I recommend that the Board vote this month to adopt the proposed new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts and Literacy and Mathematics, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards and additional Massachusetts standards and features. If the Board so votes, Department staff will do any further copyediting that is needed and then we will transmit the new frameworks to the Joint Committee on Education, per state law, and disseminate them statewide. From winter through summer 2011, the Department will conduct regional statewide professional development sessions about the new standards at the District and School Assistance Centers, Readiness Centers, and other venues. Our Race to the Top initiatives also include a range of projects and resources designed to assist districts in implementing the new standards, including: (1) documents that identify similarities and differences between our existing and new frameworks (crosswalks); (2) models for sequencing instruction under the standards through the school year; (3) model instructional units; (4) extended performance tasks that address both the standards and 21st century skills such as research, modeling, critical thinking and problem solving, using technology, and global awareness; (5) benchmark and formative assessments; and (6) a digital library of instructional resources.

Adoption of the new frameworks is a major milestone for the Commonwealth. The standards contained in these documents are strong, comprehensive, and rigorous, reflecting the best thinking of educators in Massachusetts as well as nationally. They are the foundation upon which the primary work of our schools - curriculum and instruction - is based. I look forward to discussing the new frameworks with the Board and responding to your questions. I am pleased to recommend that the Board approve the new frameworks this month.

Enclosures :

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(1) Massachusetts Standards Added to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(2) Massachusetts Standards Added to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(3) Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics, Grades PreKindergarten to 12, Incorporating the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(4) Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades Prekindergarten to 12, Incorporating the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy
(5) Motion


Last Updated: December 20, 2010
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