Letter 1: November 10, 2014 - NJ BOE adoption of Common Core

November 10, 2014
Dear Parents/Guardians of Fair Lawn Students:
In today’s fast paced world it seems that attending to our families and jobs requires the majority of our
time and focus. This leaves many with little time to read about what is going on in today’s world of public
education that directly affects their children.
I thought it necessary to summarize some BUZZ words that seem to have parents’ attention and asking
questions. This letter is intended to share some of today’s explanations found in numerous websites and
articles regarding, “What are the Common Core State Standards?”
In 2010, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
which define grade-level expectations from kindergarten through high school for what students should
know and be able to do in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics to be successful in college and
The CCSS were collaboratively developed under the joint leadership of the National Governors
Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) with the participation of
educators, curriculum experts, school administrators, and college/university level faculty. More than 40
states, including New Jersey, have adopted them. You can find much more on this topic by visiting
What about the other subjects?
New Jersey has had state standards since 1996 in nine subject areas. With the adoption of the CCSS the
New Jersey Standards, known as the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS) will remain for Visual
and Performing Arts, Comprehensive Health/Physical Education, World Languages, Science, Social
Studies, 21st Century Life/ Careers, and Technology.
The following are thorough definitions of each bolded word(s) which I hope will assist our
parents/guardians in understanding the public school requirements. These “BUZZ WORDS” appear in the
New Jersey Department of Education-PASS program.
Academic Standards-Description of the knowledge and skills a student needs to acquire by the end of
each school year. Standards answer the question, “What should a student know at each grade level to
prepare for college and career?” Teams of educators and experts develop academic standards. The
standards are posted for public comment, considered, and adopted by the New Jersey State Board of
Education. Academic standards do not limit student learning but rather provide an assurance that students
are taught the skills they need. The State of New Jersey has had academic standards for more than 20
Core Curriculum Content Standards-Description of the knowledge and skills that a student needs in
seven content areas that are set forth on page 1. The Core Curriculum Content Standards were originally
adopted in 1996 and have been reviewed and readopted every five years, most recently in 2014.
Common Core State Standards-Description of the knowledge and skills that a student needs in two
content areas including; English Language Arts and mathematics. The New Jersey State Board of
Education voluntarily adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 to replace the previous
English Language Arts and mathematics standards. The Common Core State Standards were re-adopted
in 2014.
Curriculum- The school district’s plan for day-to-day teaching of the concepts contained in the
standards. Curriculum is the detailed plan for day-to-day teaching, the “how” of education. Curriculum is
written by a team of district teachers and administrators and adopted by local school boards. [Please
review this district’s curriculum by accessing the district website and clicking on the top tool bar labeled
“District Information.”]
College and Career Readiness-The K-12 preparation that allows students to gain, and build on, the
knowledge and skills required to perform well in entry-level college classes and as a valued employee.
When students are college and career ready, they are able to apply their knowledge and skills to realworld situations.
21st Century Skills-The knowledge and abilities that colleges and employers are seeking to grow the
economy and solve the problems of the future. There are many new skills including flexible problemsolving (people who solve problems in new and creative ways), collaborative communication (global
thinkers who express themselves effectively and can work productively with people all over the world),
and digital fluency (workers who are highly successful using technical and digital media skills in their
everyday work).
In my next letter, I will comment on the new PARCC testing that will take place later this year.
Bruce Watson
Superintendent of Schools
Natalie Lacatena, Assistant Superintendent-Education
Fair Lawn Board of Education
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