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Common Core

Welcome to the Common Core:

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), adopted by the State of California in 2010, are a set of expectations for students at each grade level.  The Standards explain what students should know and be able to do and they are designed to prepare students to be college and career ready upon graduation.   

The Palm Springs Unified School District is implementing the Common Core State Standards district-wide.  The next few years will see changes in the way we teach and assess our students.  The information contained below is designed to give you more information about what the Common Core Standards are and how they impact your child’s education.  

Para enlaces en Español de Estandares Estatales Centrales, por favor vaya a:
For Spanish links to Common Core information, please go to:


Please see the video below for a short overview of the Common Core State Standards.

Parent Common Core Videos, English and Spanish


What are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?

  1. The foundation for success in the 21st century will be the ability to think critically, solve problems creatively, and to communicate and collaborate effectively. CCSS will provide opportunities for students to acquire and perfect these “21st century skills” so they can be prepared to succeed in higher education and compete in the global economy.

  2. CCSS will encourage and facilitate the integration of technology into the classroom, both as a resource to support student learning and as a means of leveling the playing field by offering all students access to the world of information.

  3. CSS will replace exclusively multiple-choice assessments with more project-oriented and critical-thinking assessments that require students to use the knowledge they have acquired to demonstrate their learning.

  4. CCSS defines conceptually rich standards aligned across states and on par with the high standards of nations whose students have had the greatest educational success. The new standards place more emphasis on deep understanding and real-world application.

  5. CCSS focuses a coordinated, multi-state effort on preparing students for success in college and career pursuits while giving local schools and classroom teachers more support for designing strategies that will empower their students’ learning.

For more information, please see:

http://www.corestandards.org/   and   http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/



Myths and Facts about the Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) outline what students should know and what they should be able to do in reading and mathematics from kindergarten through 12th grade. The standards align with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully enter college or the workforce, are benchmarked to the standards of the world’s top-performing countries, and mark the first time that states share a common set of expectations for the nation’s students.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted and are preparing to fully implement the Common Core Standards. These states will also administer the new standards aligned tests in the 2014–15 school year. Unfortunately, rumors and myths about the CCSS continue to generate confusion among educators, policymakers, and the public.

MYTH: The Common Core standards were developed by the federal government.

FACT: States developed the standards. The nation’s governors and state education commissioners spearheaded Common Core development to provide clear and consistent understanding of the reading and math knowledge and skills that students need to be ready for lifelong learning and career success. Working through their representative organizations - the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) - state leaders collaborated with educators, subject matter experts, and researchers to write and review the standards. The federal government was not involved with the standards’ development.

MYTH: The federal government required states to adopt the standards.

FACT: The federal government did not require states to adopt the standards. In fact, four states (Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia) have chosen not to adopt the standards in either subject, and Minnesota has adopted the English language arts standards but not the math standards. However, the federal government’s Race to the Top grant competition incentivized states to adopt college and career readiness standards, such as the CCSS, by providing state applicants with additional points for doing so. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education required states to adopt either the Common Core standards or another set of reading and math college- and career-ready standards approved by its network of higher education institutions.

MYTH: The Common Core standards include all core academic subjects.

FACT: The Common Core includes only mathematics and English language arts standards. The standards do, however, connect with student learning in other subjects by emphasizing literacy, academic vocabulary, problem solving, and mathematical reasoning across the curriculum, including in history and science. Separate efforts to create model standards for science, social studies, and the arts are under way, but these efforts are not part of the CCSS.

MYTH: The Common Core standards will fully prepare students for college and their careers.

FACT: Students need more than reading and math proficiency to be fully ready for college and their careers. To be sure, the CCSS - which are often described as college- and career-readiness standards - are an important first step in delineating the reading and math knowledge and skills that students will need to succeed after high school graduation. But to attain postsecondary success, students must have access to a comprehensive education that also includes instruction in the arts, civics and government, economics, foreign languages, geography, health education, history, physical education, and science.

Furthermore, a whole child approach to education is essential to realizing the promise of the standards. Only when students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged will they be able to meet our highest expectations and realize their fullest potential. Similarly, effective professional development that helps educators integrate the standards into the classroom and translate the standards into instructional strategies that meet their students’ unique needs is crucial to the new standards’ success.

MYTH: The Common Core standards are a national curriculum that dictates what and how every educator must teach.

FACT: The standards are not a curriculum. Standards are targets for what students should know and be able to do. Curricula are the instructional plans and strategies that educators use to help their students reach those expectations. The CCSS are a set of shared goals for the knowledge and skills students should possess in English language arts and mathematics to be proficient in those subjects. As such, districts and schools should use the standards as a basis for developing their own curricula by designing course content, choosing appropriate instructional strategies, developing learning activities, continuously gauging student understanding, and adjusting instruction accordingly.

MYTH: The CCSS will usurp local control of schools.

FACT: School boards remain responsible for setting their own visions and executing their own approaches for helping students reach the standards. In addition, districts and schools will continue to choose their own textbooks and instructional materials, provide teachers with tailored professional development, and design supports and interventions to help students reach proficiency.

School districts have always had to abide by state-approved education standards, of which the CCSS is one example. At the same time, districts had the flexibility and responsibility to implement the state-approved standards in a manner that reflected their local contexts and students’ needs. The same holds try with the Common Core standards. As has always been the case, educators and local communities will continue to make decisions about what happens in their districts, schools, and classrooms.

MYTH: Student test scores will plummet on the new Common Core assessments compared with scores on current state assessments.

FACT: The Common Core assessments that are under development are new tests based on new standards, which means that they will set a brand new benchmark for student performance. As such, it is simply not valid to compare scores on the new tests with scores on previous state assessments.

To measure student understanding of the Common Core standards, CA is participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). In addition to setting those new performance benchmarks, the new assessment system will differ markedly from current state assessments in delivery, complexity, and timing. Assessments are computer-based and will feature more varied and sophisticated questions – including performance-based items – that are designed to evaluate students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

MYTH: States, districts, and schools are spending excessive resources on Common Core implementation.

FACT: Although transitioning to the new standards will initially cost states additional money, the collaborative nature of the Common Core provides states with the opportunity to share resources, assessments, and educator professional development, resulting in economies of scale never before possible.

It’s also important to note that the costs associates with CCSS implementation – updating instructional materials, providing professional development for educators, and improving assessments – are ongoing investments for states, districts, and schools and would be requisite expenses for any new standards a state chooses to adopt.

MYTH: Implementing the new standards involves analyzing and reporting information about individual students and puts students’ privacy at risk.

FACT: Common Core participation does not require student-level data sharing, analysis, or reporting. Each state decides how to assess its students on the standards and how to use the results of those assessments. Smarter Balanced will collect basic demographic data on students so that states have information on subgroup performance for accountability purposes, but they will not report assessment or demographic information at the individual student level. States will make their own decisions about whether to further analyze or share the assessment data as a way to inform, improve, and personalize instruction.

For more information, please see:




Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Palm Springs Unified School District making this change?

Common Core is about teaching our students to investigate, collaborate and discover. It’s about solving real-world problems and learning multiple paths to each solution. It’s about cultivating diverse skills and nurturing talents that transcend the capacity of existing technologies. It’s about taking our work with students a step further and substantially deeper.

What will the Common Core standards look like in my child’s classroom?

Hands-on activities and collaborative exercises will be much more prevalent, and students will see a shift toward nonfiction texts. Media skills will be integrated into everyday lessons, writing will be shared with outside audiences and next-generation assessments will evaluate higher order processes.

Math classes will teach fewer concepts, but they will reach new depths in exploring those concepts. Students will be challenged with more real-world applications and fewer theoretical equations, and there will be a greater emphasis on learning the process rather than merely providing the correct answer.

How will this affect standardized testing?

On Oct. 2, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that will replace the state’s old standardized testing system with more modern, computer-based assessments aligned with the new Common Core instructional standards.

The law suspends most Standardized Testing and Reporting exams for the current school year, meaning that most PSUSD students won’t take California Standards Tests in the spring. That enables school districts to begin transitioning to the new California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress -- or MAPP -- assessments, which are slated to be administered during the 2014-15 school year.

The new exams, developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, will feature computer-adaptive technology that can adjust questions based on previous right or wrong answers, providing much more precise feedback to indicate which skills and content areas have been mastered. Like the Common Core itself, the assessments will focus more on critical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving.


Key Points:

  • The standards are NOT a federal directive or initiative. The CCSS are and continue to be led and implemented by states.

  • The standards were developed with significant input from K-12 educators, parents, students, scholars, representatives from higher education and business.

  • The standards are NOT a curriculum. While states collectively developed the standards, decisions about curriculum and teaching practices are made locally.

  • The standards align with PSUSD’s ongoing improvement efforts and therefore will only serve to enhance our ability to develop the best from within our students.

  • The standards define what students are expected to know and be able to do, not HOW teachers should teach.

  • The standards focus on what is MOST essential. They do not describe ALL that can or should be taught.

  • The standards do NOT define the nature of advanced work for students who meet the standards prior to the end of high school.

  • PSUSD is in the process of developing our website which will include many resources to help parents learn more about the standards.

  • The standards have already been adopted, and our students will be tested on them in 2014-2015. We have responsibility for making sure our students are prepared to take these new assessments.

  • As we make the transition to the standards, our students will have even greater opportunity to engage with rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills.

Organizations in Support of the Common Core State Standards

  • California School Boards Association (CSBA)

  • Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)

  • California Teachers Association (CTA)

  • California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA)

  • California Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

For additional information and resources on the Common Core State Standards, please see the following: