CCRS Express

Madison County Schools

Summer Reflections of the CCRS: Impact vs Implementation

As the summer approaches, students leave school filled with more than thoughts of vacation, beaches, relaxation, and fun. They are also loaded with a list of book titles they are encouraged to read because studies have proven that reading enables students to stay academically sharp for the next school year. Educators who want to stay 'sharp' over the summer should also adhere to the referenced practice as it relates to the College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) and their correlation to instruction. It is without question that the new standards were implemented across Madison County Schools several years ago. However, a reflection on whether lesson designs have shifted sufficiently to truly impact student achievement should be explored.

During a recent meeting with our district's CCRS Implementation Team, Mr. Solley asked team members to collaborate and discuss thought provoking questions designed for planning future staff development. As educators make plans for the summer, it would be beneficial for everyone to reflect upon some of the questions that were asked, as noted below:

  • Do ALL teachers know and understand the CCRS? Has instruction changed?
  • Does professional development plan provide focus on teaching the CCRS?
  • Do teachers have and use aligned benchmark or interim assessments as well as daily formative assessment strategies?
  • How many of our students are exceeding or ready based on Aspire and Plan results?
  • How many of our students are considered college and career ready?
  • At the school level, do we have a plan for supporting students based on data?
  • Do leaders regularly communicate with education stakeholders (including district educators) about their CCRS implementation effort and its associated priorities?

The self-assessment forces us to take a closer look at both our professional development and lesson plans through the lens of impact vs implementation. If the reexamination reveals that little change has occurred in a student's ability to master standards, solve problems, think critically, write argumentatively, or apply skills, it should drive us with urgency to fine-tune our crafts by participating in summer reading that will make us better educators. Online resources and books by credible authors are outlined below :

  • There are tons of archived CCRS webinars available at,

  • Common Core for the Not-So-Common Learner (K-5) or (6-12) by Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria Dove

  • Uncommon Core by Michael W. Smith, Deborah Appleman, and Jeffrey Wilhelm

  • The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core by Harvey Silver, R. Thomas Dewing, and Matthew Perini

  • Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word by Barbara R. Blackburn

  • High-Impact Instruction by Jim Knight

  • Quality Questioning: Research-Based Practice to Engage Every Learner - Jackie Walsh

  • Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Grades K-5 by Sherry Parrish

  • How to Teach Thinking Skills within the Common Core by James Bellanca, Robin Fogarty, and Brian Pete

Upcoming Workshops

Professional development opportunities continue to occur across the country. Administrators and/or teachers should make note of the upcoming educational conferences that support effective implementation of the College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS):

  • Gulf Coast Conference on the Teaching of Writing - June 29 -July 2, 2015; Sandestin FL; Key Topics Include: Quick Writes: Using Engaging Nonfiction Texts to Meet Common Core's Range and Complexity Standard (k-8), Who Writes in Science, The W.R.I.T.E. Stuff, Just a Swingin': How Writing is Supported through Integration in the Arts and Content Areas (6-8), and more!

  • Mega Conference 2015 - July 20 - 24, 2015; Mobile, AL; Key Topics Include: Unwrap CCRS and Define Yourself with Alabama Insight, Gifted and the CCRS, Alabama's CCRS and Webb's Depth of Knowledge, and more!

  • Learning Forward Conference - December 5 - 9, 2015; Washington, DC; Key Topics Include: Mathematics at Work: Creating a K-12 CCR Culture for All Students, With Rigor for All: Promoting Literacy Through Vigorous Reading and Writing, Building an Understanding-Based Curriculum for College and Career Readiness, and much more!

Schools and District Share 2nd Semester Happenings that Assisted with CCRS Implementation

The Public Review of the Alabama CCRS

Although the College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) were implemented in Alabama schools three years ago, controversy surrounding the new standards continued to swirl during the 2014-2015 school year. Senate Bills, like SB 101, that recommended termination of the CCRS implementation ignited opponents and it appeared as though the scale of abolishment was imminent. However, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) realized that the CCRS have the capacity to provide progressive change in American education. So, they listened to the public at large and took action!

To address the outcries from opposers of the CCRS, the ALSDE formed an English language arts and mathematics Course of Study (COS) committee, during the fall semester, that allowed the PUBLIC to review the English language arts and math standards. The review was available for 12 weeks and allowed participants an opportunity to offer feedback on standards by grade level. Approximately 1,170 standard, equaling 82 percents, were reviewed with users clicking 'Agree' on a chosen standard(s). Approximately 250 standards, equaling 18 percents, were reviewed, with users clicking 'Disagree' with the ability to comment on a chosen standards. Feedback generated from the activity was reviewed by the state mathematics and English language arts Course of Study (COS) committee. The only comments that were considered for action were those of academic substance that were tied to a specific standard.

English Language Arts Standards Review

There was unanimous agreement that no action should be taken on the majority of the comments from the public review. There were two recommendations from 128 disagreeing comments. The comments fell into three main categories of concern related to the standards.

  • Grade-level placements of the standards: There were many suggestions for moving standards to a higher grade level. The committee felt this is an indication of a lack of understanding about the increased rigor which leads to college and career readiness and about how the standards build from one grade level to the next.
  • Local implementation of the standards: There were several comments about instruction (how the standards are being taught, materials, etc.) and about assessments. The standards state the expectations for what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. Both instruction and assessment are local decisions.
  • Lack of understanding regarding the meaning of the standards: Some comments did not address the content of the standard. Some questioned the value of certain literacy standards which the committee felt are critical skills (e.g., naming characters, setting, main idea, supporting details, retelling the story, naming the author and illustrator).

Mathematics Standards Review

After careful review there was unanimous agreement by the Mathematics committee that no actions were needed on any of the comments from the public review. No action by this committee affirms the quality of the current COS for Mathematics. Additionally, the committee believes the COS is well written and standards are appropriately placed to ensure students become college and career ready.

eLearning's Summer 2015 Semester

eLearning's Summer 2015 semester begins on June 3, 2015. Approximately 50 different courses will be offered and interested persons can review the course listings at As always, the courses are entirely online and completely FREE. Registration should occur through STIPD.

The EDU55xx courses are designed for school and district leaders - each of which can lead to an ACLD-approved PLU with additional project work and completion of a 3-week follow-on showcase course later in the year. Each semester, courses are offered in the academic disciplines for Elementary and Middle School along with 21st Century Classroom courses as follows:

- EDU1104 Fit, Healthy, and Ready to Succeed (Pre-K-2)

- ELA2411 Reading Comp in ES

- ELA3411 Reading Comp in MS

- HIS3713 Internet and History - Terrorism

- MTH2513 Algebraic Thinking is ES

- MTH3513 Geometric Measurement (6-8)

- SCI2880 Inquiry in the Science Classroom (3-5)

- SCI3661 Earth Science for K-2

- SCI3880 Inquiry in the Science Classroom (6-8)