CCRS Express

Madison County Schools

Staying the Course with the College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS)

Over the past few months, Dr. Tommy Bice, Alabama Superintendent of Education, has been consistently broadcasting a simplistic, yet profound message to Alabama students, teachers, and administrators - "Stay the Course!" In the educational realm where teachers are continually inundated with new initiatives, demands, and responsibilities, the news have been met with receptive ears and joyful hearts. Dr. Bice recognizes that substantive and lasting change for improving student achievement occurs best when educators are given time to effectively explore, collaborate, plan, teach, evaluate, and reteach. Madison County Schools will adhere to our educational leader's challenge as implementation of the College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) continues across the curriculum.

Staying the course in our school district means professional development will continue to focus on five instructional areas during the 2014-2015 school year. Since the CCRS emphasize rigorous lessons that promote higher-order thinking, processes, and strategies - targeting the academic areas below will impact significantly student learning :

  • Usage of informational text
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Writing using text-based evidence
  • Academic vocabulary
  • Ability to demonstrate Eight Mathematical Practice Standards

Register Quickly to Become a CCRS Expert while Earning CEUs!

The fall 2014 semester of eLearning's professional development schedule encompasses five (5) new courses that center on College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS). Courses are FREE and completely online. The majority of them last 6 weeks and participants will earn 3.0 CEUs (30 clock hours). Educators who are interested in participating in the CCRS courses offered below should register immediately because there are only 100 seats available per course:

Content Area - STI PD Number

  • ELA k-5 - CCRSELA01
  • ELA 6-12 - CCRSELA02
  • Content Literacy - CCRSLIT01
  • Math k-5 - CCRSMTH01
  • Math 6-12 - CCRSMTH02

**Register in STI-

Typically, each weekly session contains readings, activities, and discussion questions. Although there is no requirement to be online on any given day or at any given time, all weekly assignments must be completed within that week. The learning comes from the interaction of the eLearning community. Participants are expected to complete the reading and activity assignments, post their reflective thoughts on the weekly discussion question(s), read ALL the discussion posts of their classmates, AND reply to one or two of their classmates' comments. Each course also requires completion of a Final Project - one that can be used by the participant in classrooms. The project must be completed within 30 days of the course end and may be a collaborative effort.

The UPDATED Alabama Insight Tool: Planning Made Simple!

"Is there an instructional resource available for effectively unpacking the CCRS in user-friendly terminology?" "How can I identify what students will need to know in order to master each standard?" "Is there an instructional tool that can be used by our grade-level teams, content teams, teachers, and/or administrators to develop high-quality, rigorous lessons?" " What will students need to say or do to demonstrate attainment of the CCRS?" By now, educators should be aware that the Alabama Insight Tool enables teachers to answer all of these questions with ease.

The referenced resource has been a tremendous tool for helping instructors identify specific knowledge, skills, vocabulary, understandings, and evidence of student attainment for each standard. Amazingly, new and expanded functions have been added to the Alabama Insight Tool. One new feature that has been getting a LOT of attention is the unique login that is currently available for teachers. Every teacher is strongly encouraged to sign up for a unique login to experience the updated Insight Tool by following the instructions below:

  • Access ALEX:
  • Select Personal Workspace.
  • Select Create New Account, and complete the information.
  • You will receive a confirmation email with a link; Click on it.
  • Update your Profile, and Click on "Update Account."
  • Click on your Personal Workspace link.
  • Click on the Alabama Insight Tool button. You will now have access to the Alabama Insight Tool.

Alabama GRIT

It would probably be safe to surmise that many Alabamians visualize a southern breakfast when they see the beginning letters of GRIT. However, Alabama GRIT (Graduate Ready, Impact Tomorrow) is a team of Alabama parents, educators, business leaders, military personnel, and other civic leaders who work together to ensure all of Alabama's children have an opportunity to graduate from any of Alabama's schools prepared for life - whether they are beginning college or a career.

The members of Alabama GRIT have a firmness of mind when it comes to advocating for higher academic standards and promoting policies that build on the gains our students are making. Their website ( contains a myriad of CCRS resources, videos (of teachers teaching the standards), parent guides, and more! The referenced website is also a great resource for finding documents that explain what the new standards are and what they are not! If you believe that every child should be able to attend a great school in Alabama that expects more of its students and ensures every graduate is prepared for life after graduation - think about joining TEAM GRIT!

How to Develop Rigorous Lessons: Webinars to the Rescue!

In an era where usage of advanced technology is a common practice, every instructor should have a general or an in-depth understanding of how to teach to the rigor of the CCRS. Why? Free online, educational webinars are available that cover a multitude of topics on every subject. Participating in a CCRS webinar allows attendees an opportunity to see and hear online professional development opportunities in the comfort of their homes. So, there is little (or no) reason for an educator to utilize ineffective instructional strategies while teaching to increase student achievement.

Two online websites provide both active and archived CCRS webinars: and (links are also accessible below article). They host a wide variety of online educational topics that are extremely beneficial for teachers who want their instructional techniques to improve. To access the edWeb site, interested educators must ... Create a personal account > Click on 'My Communities' tab > Select 'Implementing CCSS' > Select 'webinar archives' in far left corner of screen. Webinars that were developed several years ago are accessible in the archive sections. Awesome! The ASCD site also offers a storehouse of webinars that are readily available. Listed below are a few of the webinars that can be found on the ASCD site:

  • Teaching to the Rigor of the CCSS
  • Addressing the Role of Text Complexity in the CCSS
  • Speaking and Listening Across the Common Core
  • Practical Strategies and Implications of the CCSS on Inclusive Settings and Students with Disabilities
  • Using Formative Assessment to Meet the Demands of the CCSS
  • Common Core Math: Getting from Standards to Instruction
  • Project-Based Learning and the CCSS