How the CCSS Are Different

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA and math represent a major shift in the expectations of the content and skills that students are expected to know and be able to do in each grade. In ELA, the CCSS is a significant departure from prior state standards in the following ways:

  • The CCSS goes beyond merely reading and writing, as the ELA standards include speaking and listening skills as well. These standards can easily be applied to other content areas not covered by the CCSS. Furthermore, in grades 6-12 the CCSS includes literacy standards in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects, thus extending reading and literacy demands into other subjects.
  • The CCSS places an emphasis on building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction. This does not mean the end of literature in the classroom, rather a balance of informational texts and works of fiction. Creating this balance will provide students with exposure to the multiple types of texts they will encounter in other high school courses, as well as college and the workforce. As a result, teachers in other core subject areas, such as history and science, will need to use more nonfiction and informational texts to help students master the CCSS.
  • The CCSS calls for reading, writing, and speaking that is grounded in evidence from texts. As part of this shift, students will develop the ability to craft and defend arguments based on evidence drawn from texts. Text dependent questions and prompts will require students to read, reread, and analyze texts—skills that students will need to master and employ in both college and the workforce.
  • The CCSS requires regular practice with complex text and its academic language. As students progress through the grades, they will be exposed to and asked to master increasingly difficult texts. This is particularly important given the integration of technology and complex writing required in all careers.

In mathematics, the CCSS is a significant departure from prior standards in the following ways:

For additional information about the CCSS, see: For additional information about the math standards see:
  •  The CCSS is more strongly focused on fewer topics, particularly in the early grades. In previous state standards, mathematics was often treated as an amalgam of all mathematical topics. The CCSS refocuses the content and skills in each grade to ensure that students master foundational skills. This is critical because it gives educators and students the opportunity to dive deep into the math standards and build their understanding and application of the math content.
  • The CCSS is written to be coherent across grades and topics within grades. Building on a strong focus, the standards also link more directly from one grade to the next, so students are continuously building on their mastery. This coherence also allows students, teachers, and parents  to see how the major content areas develop over time.
  • Previous math pedagogy has often been criticized as teaching students a disconnected “bag of tricks” or mnemonics rather than fostering a true understanding of fundamental concepts. The CCSS calls for rigor in major topics, meaning that students must master conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and application of mathematics. In other words, students will need to understand the mathematical concepts, complete calculations with speed and accuracy, and be able to apply their mathematical knowledge to real work situations.



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