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Dear Colleagues,
To truly understand Common Core instruction, few tools are more helpful than seeing Common Core instruction in action. That's why this week we're continuing our video professional development series with an installment that features a fifth grade classroom in Ballston Spa where students are engaging in one of the key Common Core practices: making claims using direct evidence from text. Students in the video tackle two texts with similar themes. You'll see how their teacher helps them to "read like a detective," closely examining the text to understand the author's intent.

We also share perspectives on the Common Core and assessments from the viewpoints of a parent, educators, and students. Finally, our professional development website for educators, EngageNY.org, has hit some milestones that we would like to share with you.
John B. King, Jr.
Follow me on Twitter @JohnKingNYSED
"Light Bulbs are Lighting Up": Students Talk about the Common Core
10-year-old Makenzie of East Greenbush explains how she's understanding fractions in new ways. Her teacher says that's because of the Common Core.

Parent Sees Opportunities with Common Core
Michele Murphy of South Huntington, Long Island, describes why she supports new challenges and opportunities for her daughter through instruction with the Common Core learning standards.

What Parents Should Know About Common Core
Watervliet 4th grade teacher Khalan Heid describes what parents should know about the Common Core as her students work together to explore non-fiction texts.

Video Professional Development Series: Making a Claim Using Two Texts with Similar Themes
The third installment of our new video professional development series focuses on a fifth grade classroom where students are making claims using two texts with similar themes (RL.5.1 and RL.5.9). The first video does not include captions of evidence of Common Core alignment. The second video includes captions that highlight when the task or teacher move is illustrating Common Core aligned instruction.
Who: small group of educators (1-4)
What: video professional development

New York Perspectives
New York Daily News
April 2, 2014
Brett Peiser, CEO of Uncommon Schools, talks about the ways that teachers made the state assessments fun for students.

EngagedVoices Educator Blog: High Stakes! Really?
This week's post from our EngagedVoices educator blog features Stephen Broadwell, Superintendent of Schools in Willsboro Central School District. Stephen explains that we can encourage students "to practice and do their best" on the assessments, and use the tests as one measure of their success.
While "high stakes testing" is sometimes used in connection with assessments, there are only two types of high stakes tests for New York students; one is if the medical doctor tells a parent, "We want to run some tests on your child." That is high stakes! The other tests that truly matter are the Regents exams. Failure to successfully pass the Regents exams connects to graduation. That could be considered stressful! All the other required tests, including the Grade 3-8 assessments, are simply a "snapshot in time."
EngageNY Updates
EngageNY.org, the professional development website for educators developed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), has had more than 10 million visits since it first went online in 2011. The site, which provides resources such as optional curriculum modules, exemplar videos and other material to support implementation of the state's new higher education standards, has had 4.5 million unique visitors and more than 60 million page views from every state in the nation and countries around the world. The Common Core curriculum aligned modules have been downloaded 6.2 million times.

In its report, Setting the Pace: Expanding Opportunity for America's Students under Race to the Top, the Executive Office of the President in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education highlighted the success of EngageNY.org, and several states and national organizations like Achieve and SREB have cited EngageNY.org as a model webpage and praised New York's optional curriculum materials.

For accounts of how the resources on EngageNY.org are helping educators provide an effective education for every student, see the EngagedVoices blog.

Support for teachers around using the resources on EngageNY.org has been provided in a variety of ways since its launch in 2011:
  • A majority of New York's nearly $700 million in Race to the Top funds - approximately $486 million or nearly 70% of the grant - has been given to districts to support implementation of the Common Core, the new teacher and principal evaluation system, and improving instruction based on evidence of student learning.
  • Network teams, on average comprising three professional development staff per 25 schools, were launched in 2010-11 in every region of the state and in every large district to provide training and embedded support to districts around implementation of the Common Core, the new teacher and principal evaluation system, and improving instruction based on evidence of student learning.
  • Since 2011, Network Teams have participated in multi-day statewide professional development institutes nearly every other month alongside teacher and principal ambassadors selected to support their colleagues with Common Core implementation. To date, there have been more than 11,000 attendees across these Network Team Institutes. These have been supplemented by an unprecedented number of presentations and workshops by senior NYSED leaders.
  • Higher Education institutions have received over $30 million in Race to the Top funds to support more clinically rich teacher and principal prep and alignment of their programs to the Common Core and new more rigorous certification exams
Module Downloads from EngageNY.org through 4/6/2014 
English Language Arts
Prekindergarten - Grade 5
Prekindergarten - Grade 2
Grades 6 - 8
Grades 3 - 8
Grades 9 - 12
Grades 9 - 11

Grades 6 - 12 Units
Mathematics Total:
English Language Arts Total:
All Modules Total: