September 2011 Issue
August 23, 2011

Bringing the Common Core standards to life

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
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Using a statewide committee system of teachers, school-related professionals and higher education faculty, NYSUT will be working to get the word out about upcoming Common Core State Standards and to support the transition.

"It's absolutely essential that practitioners - the experts - are actively involved in moving this plan from paper to practice," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "We need to be involved every step of the way, as the state starts phasing in the upcoming new curriculum."

While participation in the common core curriculum will be voluntary in 2011-12, phase-in will be required in 2012-13, said State Education Commissioner John King. That's when New York's assessments will start to be re-aligned to match the Common Core State Standards - first in English and math, with other subjects to follow. In the coming school year, state assessments in ELA and math will continue to be based on the 2005 learning standards, which will make it challenging for teachers. Neira urged practitioners to learn more about the new common core standards and get involved with district and school-level committees realigning curriculum. She encouraged teachers to share best practices that are already being used in classrooms around the state.

NYSUT will be revamping its statewide committees this fall to ensure that practitioners from multiple grade levels and subject areas will be involved in reviewing and commenting on SED guidance documents, and developing exemplar lessons aligned with the common core standards.

Starting this fall, the union's Education & Learning Trust will offer new courses to help members connect the standards purposefully into the daily fabric of the classroom. For example, one new graduate course will focus on integrating literacy into the core and non-core courses. The state's Teacher Center network, which received partial state funding to support statewide initiatives such as the Common Core Curriculum, will be providing professional development opportunities to assist educators with planning common core units.

Both of NYSUT's national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, were actively involved in providing ongoing practitioner feedback on the nationwide standards that have been adopted by 47 states, including New York.

SED this summer launched a new website,, to inform educators about data-driven instruction and shifting instruction to the common core standards. The website includes a 15-part video series, six exemplar lessons, text examples, a glossary of key terms and background materials that were used at SED's network team training in August. Network team members will be conducting regional trainings in the coming school year. A two-hour webinar, which is posted on the SED website, features King and national expert David Coleman, who appeared at an AFT national conference in July. Coleman said the standards should not become an exercise in adding on, but a conscious effort to define what matters most and focus more deeply on content. Neira, who moderated the AFT panel discussion and served on the union committee that developed the rollout recommendations on what educators need to successfully implement standards, said serious attention and support must be dedicated to meaningful professional development, instructional materials and time needed for teachers and other classroom staff to adapt to the new standards.

King, who urged teachers to try at least one of the new common core units in the coming year, invited educators to submit exemplar lessons that can be shared with colleagues. Go to SED's web page at for submission details, plus background information on the shift to common core.

For more info

View the webinar at, or go to SED's web page at for more information.


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