CCRS Implementation

Report from the Implementation Team for December 2012

How will College and Career Readiness Standards affect me and my school?

College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) will change our focus in a number of ways as an academic institution. First and foremost, is the vision of a literate 21st century student who is equipped with Thinking, Writing, Investigating, Reading, Listening and Speaking skills (often referred to as TWIRLS skills) which are necessary for success in college and career work after graduation. We are no longer tied to a set of mandated subject area tests and annual yearly progress reports as a school. Yea! Finally, with CCRS we go back to authentic instruction where the end product is not a school report card, but rather a literate individual ready to meet his/her future challenges!

The overall concept of CCRS is for teachers to take the curriculum and engage students by delving deep into the content through the analysis of literary and informational text; through activities where students exercise those TWIRL skills; where students must explain and show evidence through their investigation for their inferences and conclusions; and where the content is made meaningful by tying it to the real world. Obviously, this may not occur for each and every lesson, but the overall goal is to broaden the depth of understanding and comprehension so that students use the literacy skills to read, investigate, collaborate, analyze, synthesize, and then share and communicate what they learn. This is what is meant by Content Literacy, wherein each and every teacher is responsible for teaching students how to comprehend their content, how to write about it intelligently, how to raise questions and investigate the content, how to provide evidence from what is read for the beliefs and conclusions that are drawn from the content, how to engage with others in collaborating and communicating what has been learned to others and, by making what is learned meaningful in context to real-world situations.

Therefore, a literate individual should also display a number of traits. These traits are: 1) evidence of being an independent learner, 2) ability to build strong content knowledge, 3) capable of responding to varying demands of an audience, tasks, purpose, and discipline, 4) appreciates and values other perspectives and cultures, 5) ethically uses technology and digital media strategically and capably, 6) values and uses evidence ethically, and 7) is able to comprehend, analyze, reflect, and critique.

To make the shift to creating 21st century literate students we must engage in a comprehensive program that ensures Schoolwide Literacy. This means that teachers in all disciplines within the school curriculum are teaching literacy skills when they are also teaching content, thus Content Literacy is a not just a necessary component for instruction within our school, but is absolutely essential! Chances are, you are already strategically teaching, using student created projects, tying content to real-world situations, engaging students to think critically, and to provide evidence for their positions. If so, then you are well on your way to integrating the CCRS standards.

What is the big picture for CCRS?

The following graphic helps to show Dr. Bice's vision for our students and how all of these pieces fit into the framework for College and Career Readiness Skills. All of the things we are doing are designed to move us away from performance-based initiatives back toward real teaching with formative assessment as a means to create valid data from which we base decisions that impact the instructional process.

While some formative assessments are designed to provide data about students and track progress over an extended period of time, there are also those assessments that need to be done daily, throughout the instructional process, to determine the extent of student engagement and student learning at the point of the instruction. All of these pieces from the Continuous Improvement Plan, to the building of Professional Learning Communities, are all geared toward the central goal of producing students who are college and career ready graduates.
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Dr. Bice and the 2020 Plan

Click on the link for the 38 minute podcast that overviews the 2020 Plan.

Note: The recording of the March 19, 2012, Alabama Department of Education staff meeting during which Dr. Thomas R. Bice, State Superintendent of Education, outlined the Plan 2020 and summarized his vision to prepare all students for college, work, and adulthood in the 21st Century. The length of this video may require a few moments to buffer before the video begins. Thank you for your patience. (From the ALEX website.)

Alabama Course of Study Alignments and/or Professional Development Standard Alignments:
  • AQTS_5.C.1: Alabama-Specific Improvement Initiatives [Knowledge of current and emerging state initiatives and programs including, but not limited to, the Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI); the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI); and Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide (ACCESS) and their relationship to student achievement.]

Teaching & Instruction

What are the literacy standards and skills that need to be taught?

It is helpful to understand the background in the development of the Common Core when looking at the standards. Implementing the standards will be a process which will necessitate time needed to institute proper professional training and build learning communities. The transition process will involve numerous steps for the Cullman County School System and will involve a learning curve for everyone. Dr. Bice's 2020 plan is available for anyone to review and you can find out about it on the ALSDE website. The ALSDE accepted all the Common Core Standards (CCS) and then married them to a select group of "Alabama-Added English Language Arts Standards" into what is now called the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). For example, cursive writing was not included in the Common Core, but Alabama thought it was an important skill so we "added" it back. In the CCRS document any where you find an "Alabama-Added" standard you will see the Alabama State map icon listed by the standard.

It is helpful to understand the basic framework when looking at the standards. There are ten key K-12 Anchor Standards for reading. The K-12 standards define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of each grade. These 10 key standards are the backbone of Content Literacy.

The ALSDE has also provided teachers with an Insight Tool to assist teachers in easily accessing and determining what standards are to be addressed and how they align horizontally across grade levels. Information and training on how to use this tool will be part of our system’s professional development plan that will be announced at a later date. The Insight Tool will be very beneficial for teachers when implementing the standards in the classroom.

What are the CCRS Anchor Standards for Reading and Content Literacy

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicity and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content an style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. (Investigating, gathering, assessing, and applying information from print and digital sources.)

8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance of sufficiency of the evidence.

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

10. Read and comprehend complex literacy and informational texts independently and proficiently.

How does this impact my instruction?

Depending upon your current teaching practices, CCRS may not have a huge impact upon your current practice if you are already employing lessons using project-based learning or an inquiry-based model for instruction. But regardless, there are some instructional shifts in the mind-set of teachers that must be adopted for CCRS to be implemented successfully.

The first area of mind shift is increased rigor. As stated in Mel Riddile’s article, The CCSS and Schoolwide Instructional Changes, since the Common Core Standards were developed through backward design, beginning with the end result and working backward through the grades, this resulted in a significant increase in rigor at each grade level. An increase in rigor raises expectations as the new standards emphasize higher-order thinking with students applying what is learned to real-world situations. Teachers will need professional development in questioning strategies and skills instruction that will help them teach problem solving skills to students.

Adjacent in thought to an increase in rigor is the manipulation and comprehension of informational complex text. Understanding text complexity is another area where professional development will be needed so that teachers understand how to gauge and select complex text for classroom instruction. Simply put, our students need to be seriously engaged in reading informational text on an ongoing basis. Often, to assess students understanding of complex text, students will have to cite specific evidence that support their assertions and interpretations either through writing or public speaking. It is therefore important to note again how important reading and writing, as well as the other literacy skills, are as an essential element across content areas.

In order to “differentiate instruction teacher's must also have a quantitative measure of student's reading comprehension skills”. (Riddile) Various assessment tools are needed to help teachers to gather this data so our system purchased the Renaissance Place web-based software program known as STAR Reading and STAR Math as a tool to measure students. There are also other tools like ARMT, Global Scholar, as well as the ACT Inspire and Plan, that will help us address skill level and track student progress, as well. There are a variety of long term assessment tools that can track student process through Kindergarten to graduation and more information will be coming about the tools we will use for our school and Cullman County.

Another important area to discuss under teaching and instruction is student engagement. In classrooms where there is little reading and almost no writing, the CCRS seek to create a literacy-rich environment. An environment where reading and writing become a shared responsibility of all teachers and a normal part of every lesson. Reading may get students to college, but it’s writing that keeps them there. (Riddile) These two sets of skills almost share a symbiotic nature as Riddile further states that, “Research demonstrates that writing improves reading skills and that reading improves writing… Students cannot learn habits of mind, close reading, or argumentative writing by listening to a teacher talk: students must actively interact with the teacher and other students.”

Along with the need for active student engagement in reading, writing, and speaking, and the analyzing of complex text with increasing rigor from grade level to grade level, and lesson to lesson, there will be a high demand for more quality instructional time. Scheduling and flexibility will be necessary to provide teachers with a need for more instructional time to delve deeper into the content within their curriculum. Teachers will need time to use periodic assessments during the instructional process throughout the lesson. Formative assessment and strategic teaching strategies that are a part of the before, during, and after phase of instruction are inherent in an engaged classroom with quality instruction being given to students in every single classroom in each and every discipline.

Some of these concepts, tools, instructional strategies, and assessment means have already been implemented, but more is necessary before teachers are adequately equipped to fully implement the CCRS. This is one reason why professional development is so vital to implementation and it is why we need to build a community of learning. Your CCRS implementation team wants to know what you need to be successful in your classroom as you adopt and implement the standards and move toward building a school, and school system, with content literacy as our basis for instruction.

(Adapted from the pdf file accessed through ALEX) See article
Riddile, Mel. "The CCSS and Schoolwide Instructional Changes." Principal Leadership May (2012):
88-90. National Association of Secondary School Principals. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.