Home /
<<  District Departments / Curriculum & Instruction / Shorewood & the Common Core
page tools :
email page print page small type large type

Shorewood & the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a group of national learning goals outlining what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. They were adopted for English/language arts and math by the state of Wisconsin in 2010. (Previously, Wisconsin only had standards outlining what students should know at the end of grades 4, 8 and 12.)

In Shorewood, we think of the standards as a floor. They define the foundation of learning, but all other aspects of our curriculum that are more advanced than the standards won’t go away. Instead, students and teachers will continue to move upward, building upon the floor provided by standards, without drastically changing the educational experience Shorewood families have come to expect. We think it makes sense to align to the standards, without formally adopting them, so that students are successful on the new assessments, while ensuring that this alignment does not limit our schools’ best work. Even though there is controversy surrounding the standards, Shorewood’s alignment effort is a reasonable approach to support students while maintaining its own unique, high expectations.

These standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, while helping families understand what is expected of their students.

It's also important to remember that the Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum; they are standards that establish what students need to learn, but don't dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, our District and teachers will work together to decide how to best help students reach the standards.

Currently, standards have only been released for English/language arts and math. Standards have not been adopted for other subject areas yet, although the Next Generation Science Standards are being reviewed and are expected to be formally adopted soon. Social studies standards are still being developed; we will continue to update you as more information about those standards becomes available.

More information about the specific standards for each grade level can be found below:

If you have any additional questions, please email Dr. Tabia Nicholas, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Pupil Services, at tnicholas@shorewood.k12.wi.us. You can also call her at 414-963-6903.

Below is a brief, three-minute video explaining the standards as well as commonly asked questions about them.


What are the Common Core Standards? How were they developed?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which were adopted by Wisconsin in 2010 (for math and English/language arts), are a group of national learning goals outlining what students should know and be able to do by the end of every grade level. (Previously, Wisconsin only had standards outlining what students should know at the end of grades 4, 8 and 12.) These standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, while helping families understand what is expected of their students. In Wisconsin, teams of educational professionals, including representatives from the Wisconsin State Reading Association, the Wisconsin Mathematics Council, the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English, and the University of Wisconsin System, as well as the state’s Technical College system and Private College system all reviewed drafts of the standards. UW-Madison leaders and the president of Gateway Technical College also provided feedback throughout the process. Currently, standards have only been released for English/language arts and math. Standards have not been adopted for other subject areas yet, although the Next Generation Science Standards are being reviewed and are expected to be formally adopted soon. Social studies standards are still being developed; we will continue to update you as more information about those standards becomes available.

In Shorewood, we think of the standards as a floor—they define the foundation of learning—all other aspects of our curriculum that are more advanced than the standards won’t go away; instead, students and teachers will continue to move upward, building upon the floor provided by standards, without drastically changing the educational experience Shorewood families have come to expect. We think it makes sense to align to the standards so students are successful on the new assessments, while ensuring that this alignment does not limit our schools’ best work. Even though there is controversy surrounding the standards, Shorewood’s alignment effort is a reasonable approach to support students while maintaining its own unique, high expectations.

You can learn more by visiting the Wisconsin DPI (Department of Public Instruction) website or corestandards.org. You can learn more about the science standards by visiting the Next Generation Science Standards website.

What is the Smarter Balanced Assessment?

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is the standardized test that will replace the WKCE standardized exam beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. This exam is aligned to the CCSS for English/language arts and math. It will be administered to students in grades 3-8 on a computer (students will no longer fill out a multiple choice sheet with a pencil) during the last 12 weeks of the school year.

This computer test will give teachers results more quickly, and will also adapt to students. Compared to the WKCE, the Smarter Balanced includes a variety of questions types, including selected response constructed response (short and extended), technology enhanced and performance tasks, rather than the strictly multiple-choice questions students have seen in the past. Fourth, eighth and tenth graders will take the WKCE social studies and science assessments during the fall of 2014. Despite the change, the amount of time students spend taking standarized tests will not change or increase.

You can learn more at smarterbalanced.org, and can practice sample questions by clicking here.

How will these changes impact my student(s)?

The Shorewood School District is aligning to the Common Core, but is not formally adopting the standards. This allows our staff to have more flexibility when designing their curriculums, while ensuring that our students will be better prepared for the content they’ll see on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, without drastically changing the District curriculum or the educational experience our students, families, and community members have come to expect from Shorewood Schools.

Are teachers receiving training for this change?

Yes. Each Wednesday, when students are dismissed an hour early, English/language arts and math instructional staff members meet by department and/or grade level to work on aligning their curriculums to the CCSS. (These are the only departments focused on this work because these are the only standards that have been released so far.) Although the science standards have not been officially adopted, a final draft has been released, so members of the science department have also been meeting to work on alignment based on that information. Dr. Tabia Nicholas, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Pupil Services, has also been working with our teachers to make changes.

This process will continue for the next 3-5 years, allowing our teachers to study the standards, in depth, without rushing to adjust their curriculums just to “teach to the test.” Additionally, as other standards are released or if any changes are made to the current standards during the next few years, our staff members will be able to adjust accordingly, without having to make additional large-scale changes. The District recognizes this is a change for our teachers, and we are working to assist them in any way possible, while reducing unnecessary stress and pressure throughout the process.

I have heard the standards are actually less rigorous than the curriculum we have now. Is this true?

Because the standards have only been released for English/language arts and math, and cover grades K-12, it’s impossible to make such a generalized statement. Some standards are more advanced than Shorewood's current curriculum, while others may not be. If a certain standard or benchmark is less rigorous than a particular aspect of our current curriculum, it doesn’t mean our teachers will stop there. Think of the standards as a floor—all other aspects of our curriculum that are more advanced than the standards won’t go away; instead, students and teachers will continue to move upward, building upon the floor provided by standards without drastically changing the educational experience Shorewood families have come to expect.

Will the test scores be used to evaluate our teachers?

Only if the teacher chooses to use the test scores for his/her evaluation. Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the District will be using the Educator Effectiveness Model mandated by the state’s Department of Public Instruction. As part of our evaluation process, each teacher will work with his/her principal to develop their own student learning objectives, or SLO. As part of that objective, each individual will create his/her own goal for the school year, which must be approved by his /her principal. For example, one teacher may make his/her goal to have 60% of their students earn advanced or proficient marks on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, while another may work with his/her department on a student project on which they will be evaluated. The SLOs will all be unique, with variations between teachers, departments, and grade levels. In all situations, however, the SLO will be just one piece of the teacher’s evaluation.

Ultimately, Shorewood teachers and principals will be working collaboratively, and the District will not have a strictly top-down evaluation structure.

Will the scores my student(s) receives on the state standardized tests be impacted?

They may be. Because the Smarter Balanced Assessment uses an entirely new system, with its own scoring scale and new measurements, test scores may be impacted during the first few years the test is administered. However, what the tests measure-— student progress and academic gains from one year to the next-—will stay the same.

Think of this as describing the freezing point using the Fahrenheit scale vs. the Celsius scale. Using Fahrenheit, we say it’s 32 degrees outside. Using Celsius, we say it’s 0 degrees outside. To say it’s 0 degrees outside does not make it any colder; it’s saying the same thing using a different scale.

Any test score changes are not a reflection of changes in the abilities of our students or their academic gains from year to year.

I've heard many other states have opted out of the Common Core after adopting it. Is that true?

No. Indiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma are the only states that adopted the Common Core but are now backing out. None of the other states have chosen to opt out of the standards. Some states, including Texas, Alaska, Nebraska and Virginia, never adopted them to begin with. Forty-four states, Washington D.C., four territories and all Department of Defense schools have adopted the standards.

Are there any other new tests my students will be taking? If so, what are they?

As part of the shift, students will take part in a new system of assessments, including the Smarter Balanced assessment.

Specific information about each exam, and which students will take that exam, can be found below (listed in alphabetical order):

ExamGrade LevelsExam Info
ACCESS 2.0ELL (English Language Learner) students in grades K-12 beginning 15-16 school year *

- Has elements of CCSS embedded into the assessment.
- Includes a screener and annual summative assessment.
- Computer adaptive

ACT Aspire Early High School 9th and 10th grade (fall and spring for 9th graders, and spring for 10th graders)

- Includes assessment of English, writing, math, reading and science
- Provides a predicted ACT score for each subject area and a composite score
- Requires about 250 minutes to administer

ACT11th grade (all 11th graders will now take this exam during the school day at school)

- Includes options: the regular ACT, ACT with approved accommodations (for students with special needs) and ACT with state-approved accommodations (not college accepted, also for students with special needs)
- Requires 205 minutes to administer

ACT WorkKeys 12th grade

- Includes applied math, locating information, and reading information
- Provides National Career Readiness Certification
- Requires 45 minutes per test to administer

Dynamic Learning MAPS Grades 3-8, and 11 for 1% of the population -Allows students with significant cognitive disabilities to show what they know in ways traditional tests cannot
- Based on Common Core Essential Elements
PALS 4K-2

- Part of the statewide assessment system, but is a screener, not a summative assessment
- Useful for helping to identify students in need of intervention and as a source of formative data

Smarter Balanced Assessment3-8 (Administered throughout the last 12 weeks of the school year)

- Assesses English/language arts and math
- Is computer adaptive
- Measures current achievement and growth
- Includes a variety of question types (selected response, constructed response [short and extended], technology enhanced, and performance tasks)

* The ACCESS for ELLs & Alternative ACCESS for ELLs (the same test that has always been administered to ELL students) will continue to be given during the 14-15 school year. This is a multiple-choice test, given with a paper and pencil, that does not have elements of CCSS.

** The WKCE test will be given for the last time during the fall fo 2014 to students in grades 4,8 and 10. They will be tested in social studies and science.

What can I do to help my students prepare for these changes?

It will be important, as always, that students stay on top of their studies. Additionally, because many of these assessments will be administered on a computer, it is important for students to practice their keyboarding skills. Students will learn keyboarding as part of the instruction at school, but there are also many at-home resources you can access by clicking here. Staff members at the Shorewood Public Library are also aware of these resources and can assist any student who may not have access to a computer in his/her home.

Additionally, the Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Department will be offering a keyboarding class this summer. You can learn more on their website. Financial assistance is available to any student or family unable to afford the class registration fee. (All District families, even those that live outside of Shorewood, are considered residents and are eligible to pay the reduced resident rate when registering for a class.)

How can I learn more?


District Calendar

    • FriNov17 Atwater PTO Linkage 9:30 AMRoom #206
    • ThuNov23 Thanksgiving
    • TueNov28 SEA Linkage 4:45 PMSHS Conference Room #116
    • TueNov28 Shorewood Historical Society/Connects/Library/Senior Center Linkage 6:00 PMSHS Conference Room #116
    • TueNov28 School Board Meeting 7:00 PM
    • MonDec04 Advanced Learning Information Session 6:00 PMSHS Library

powered by finalsite