Expectations for student learning are now more rigorous
About the Common Core State Standards
State education standards and assessments are changing in Oregon and across the country. Academic content standards describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. These standards serve as beginning points for teachers when they make decisions about what and how to teach.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a new, more rigorous set of standards in English language arts and mathematics that were developed in a state-led effort. Along with more than 40 other U.S. states, Oregon has chosen to adopt these standards, replacing Oregon’s previous English language arts and math standards. 4J schools began phasing in the new standards after Oregon adopted them in 2010.
Beginning in spring 2015, the annual state tests of math and language arts (reading and writing) now measure student learning based on the Common Core standards. The updated Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) tests in these subject areas are also known as the Smarter Balanced assessments.
The new standards require a higher level of mastery. Raising the bar is expected to impact student assessment results, at least initially, until students catch up to the more rigorous learning standards.
Matching up: The Common Core standards set clear expectations for student learning across the country. In the past, every state had its own set of different academic standards, so students at the same grade level were expected to achieve at different levels depending on where they lived. Having the same standards in many states helps all students get a good education, even if they change schools or move to a different state.
Aiming higher: The jobs of today and tomorrow demand more knowledge and skills than ever before. The Common Core standards are aligned to college and work expectations and informed by the standards adopted in other top-performing countries. They provide a framework to prepare all students to graduate from high school with the higher-level thinking skills they need to be successful in college, careers and life.
Digging deeper: The standards ask teachers and students to dig deeper into the core skills and concepts for each grade level. Teachers will cover subjects in greater depth and will focus on reading and writing, complex thinking and problem solving skills in all subject areas. This gives students an opportunity to really understand and remember what is being taught.
Local control: The Common Core is not curriculum that tells teachers what or how to teach, but a set of targets for what students are expected to know and be able to do at each grade level. How to help students reach these targets is up to local districts, schools and individual teachers. The standards were written by educators and education experts with input from parents and other teachers across the country. Their development was a state-led effort and Oregon was involved throughout the process. The decision whether to adopt the standards is up to each state.
Statewide assessments also changing
Since the state’s learning standards in math and language arts have changed, the statewide assessment of students’ learning in these areas also has changed.
Beginning in spring 2015, Oregon’s old assessments in math, reading and writing will be replaced by new assessments in math and language arts. The new tests were developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a state-led partnership including Oregon and about 20 other states. They are often referred to as the Smarter Balanced assessments and have been incorporated into the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS).
The district held several parent information nights about the Common Core State Standards in fall 2014 and about the Smarter Balanced assessments in spring 2015, including focused sessions for parents of students with disabilities and for Spanish-speaking families. For information about the parent information nights about what is changing with state tests, see the Smarter Balanced Assessments page.
Common Core Presentation for General Audience (English)
Common Core Presentation for General Audience (Spanish) / Información sobre los estándares estatales académicos)
Common Core Presentation for Parents of Students with IEPs or 504 Plans
- Why the Common Core?
- Parent Backpack Guide to the Common Core
- What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Learn
- 4J: Frequently Asked Questions About Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments
- ODE: Frequently Asked Questions About the Common Core
- National PTA — Parent Guides to the Common Core (by grade level)
- Council of the Great City Schools — Parent Roadmaps to the Common Core (by grade level)
- Common Core Standards Worth the Challenge: commentary by Eugene–Springfield superintendents
- 4J Elementary Math Report Card Changes: a letter to 4J parents — English / Spanish