News and Notes
March 2013
New York State Education Department
News and Notes
Common Core Implementation

commissionerMessage from Commissioner King

Dear Colleagues,

Three years ago, in the fall of 2009 and early winter 2010, the Board of Regents launched an educational sea change in New York State. The goal of the Regents Reform Agenda is very straightforward: all students should graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college and careers. One of the key pillars of that agenda is the shift to the Common Core Standards.


As I visit classrooms around the State, I am continually impressed by the work teachers and administrators are doing to implement the Common Core. From an evidence-based conversation about Esperanza Rising in a 5th grade classroom in North Collins to the application of mathematics to engineering in Project Lead the Way classrooms across the State, from a thoughtful discussion in student teams of real-word ratio problems in Pioneer to a close reading and careful analysis of a speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Bronx, I am continually encouraged by seeing the Common Core in action. In a few weeks, after three years of work on implementation by teachers and administrators supported by Race to the Top-funded Network Teams, the ever growing collection of resources on, district and school-level professional development, and the work of Teacher Centers and professional organizations, students in grades 3-8 will for the first time take assessments that reflect the Common Core. Next year, in 2013-14, the Regents exams will also begin to reflect the Common Core.


Of course, any major change initiative comes with anxiety and challenges. Some have even called for delaying the alignment of curriculum, instruction, professional development, classroom feedback, and assessment to the higher standards required for college and career success in the 21st century. But in point of fact, our students are already accountable for the Common Core. They do not have time to wait. Every time a college freshman takes a placement exam that first month on campus, he or she is being tested against the very expectations in the Common Core. Every time a high school graduate faces a daunting task on a challenging job (from the welder applying knowledge of fractions to the electrician reading the National Electrical Code), he or she is being tested against the Common Core. And quite frankly, our students are not doing well enough on those real world tests. Only about 35 percent of our students graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary to be called college- and career-ready. That's why the Regents moved forward so decisively in 2009. They understand that going slow means denying thousands of students the opportunity to be successful.

So, what do Common Core assessments really mean? Here are five key points - emphasized in a recent field memo from Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education Slentz - that should help address some frequently asked questions about the transition to the Common Core.

  1. In 2013, New York State, for the first time, will be reporting 3rd through 8th grade student grade-level expectations against a trajectory of college- and career-readiness as measured by tests fully reflective of the Common Core. As a result, the number of students who score at or above grade level expectations will likely decrease.
  2. As mentioned above, we expect the assessment scores will decline. But we also expect that decline will have little or no impact on principals' and teachers' State-provided growth scores. Based on New York's approach to measuring growth relative to demographically similar students, similar proportions of educators will earn each rating category (Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, and Ineffective) in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12.
  3. The number of students meeting or exceeding Common Core grade-level expectations should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or a decline in educator performance. The results from these new assessments will give educators, parents, policymakers, and the public a more realistic picture of where students are on their path to being well-prepared for the world that awaits them after they graduate from high school.
  4. No new districts will be identified as Focus Districts and no new schools will be identified as Priority Schools based on 2012-13 assessment results.
  5. Local policies and practices should balance the need for increased rigor against legitimate student expectations for access to educational programs, including local promotion and admission policies.

There's much more information about the Common Core and the new assessments below and on Take a moment to check out what's posted there. 


Again, I understand how stressful change can be, especially when you're asking students to read more challenging texts, to better support their arguments with evidence drawn from text, to write from sources, to achieve deep conceptual understanding of the most important math concepts of each grade, and to apply their math skills to real-world problems. But we owe it to our students to move forward; opportunity awaits them and it's our responsibility to make sure they're equipped to seize that opportunity.



Thank you for your dedication and perseverance over these last three years and now as we continue to move forward to implement the Regents Reform Agenda. Our students, schools, communities, and state are all the better for the work you do every day.



Dr. John B. King, Jr.




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commoncoreCommon Core Resources

Below is a list of key resources on designed to assist educators with the implementation of the Common Core.


The New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards in ELA and Mathematics
Read the standards organized by grade level in both English language arts and math.


The Common Core Shifts   

These resources explain the six instructional shifts in ELA and math needed to effectively implement the Common Core.


Memo regarding the Implementation of the Common Core
The State Education Department sent this memo to school administrators providing an update on Common Core implementation.


Common Core Curriculum Materials in ELA and Math
Access free Common Core-aligned curriculum materials, including lesson plans and performance tasks, in ELA and math.


Common Core Assessment Design   

View Item Review Criteria and additional guidance resources designed to guide test question development on the Grades 3-8 ELA and math assessments.


Test Guides and Sample Questions for Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Assessments

The test guides and sample questions demonstrate how the Common Core will be measured on the 2013 assessments.

Text List for P-12 ELA

The Text List for P-12 ELA contains all the full-length books, articles, excerpts and other texts to be used in the ELA curriculum modules on EngageNY.


Tri-State Quality Review Rubric and Rating Process

The Tri-State Collaborative (composed of educational leaders from Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island and facilitated by Achieve) has developed criterion-based rubrics and review processes to evaluate the quality of lessons and units intended to address the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and ELA/Literacy.


Workbook for Network Team Implementation of Common Core, Data Driven Instruction, and APPR 

This workbook is designed to assist Network Teams, District Superintendents and superintendents in their ongoing Common Core, Data Driven Instruction, and APPR implementation efforts.


Evidence Collection Tools for Classroom Use 

The purpose of these tools is to capture evidence of the shifts in practice in each of our classrooms. The results of this collection can play a key role in providing evidence-based feedback in general and as it relates to APPR specifically.


Common Core Video Library

Watch how educators are bringing the Common Core to life in their classrooms.


Toolkit for Parents and Families

A collection of materials and resources that will help parents and families understand the Common Core and how to help their child learn, including an FAQ, Parent's Backpack Guide to the Common Core, and What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Learn.



NYSED announces CTB/McGraw Hill will produce new High School Equivalency test replacing the GED(R), becoming the first state in the nation to offer an alternative test.


The U.S. Department of Education has announced plans for improving the implementation of equitable services requirements under applicable programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Let's Move! Active Schools is a new program to support schools in creating a culture of physical activity. Discover more about Let's Move! Active Schools here.

NYSED recommends that districts, BOCES, and charter schools review the letter from the Office for Civil Rights regarding non-academic and extracurricular activities and Section 504 to determine whether their policies are consistent with this guidance.

NYSED annually collects the number of "immigrant children and youth" to determine LEA eligibility and allocations for the Title III, Part A Immigrant Education 2013-2014 grant program. LEAs must report this information to NYSED no later than March 29, 2013. For questions, please contact Laura Arpey at 518-474-8775 or

Evolution Workshop: "Stones, Bones and Genes," May 4, 2013
Do not miss this one day workshop that provides teachers with a firm foundation in evolutionary biology, including up-to-date information on genetics, the fossil record, and human evolution.

D.H. Cadwell Earth Science Workshop, July 8-10, 2013
Join State Museum geologists at the 13th Annual Earth Science Workshop and learn more about Earth Science and New York's unique geology.
Archaeology for the Classroom!, July 23-24, 2013
The New York State Museum is pleased to offer this two-day workshop to provide educators with classroom lessons, activities, and projects designed to expose students to the excitement of archaeology.

Summer Reading at New York Libraries
The New York State Library has created a wealth of summer reading information and promotional materials that educators can use to help students and their families continue to read all summer long. These resources include flyers for educators and parents, manuals for early childcare providers and educators, and New York State themed booklists. Find the latest research about the value of summer reading here