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Originally published: 2012-10-11 14:00:31
Last modified: 2012-10-11 14:00:31

From the Superintendent’s Desk: Common Core and Essential Standards

David Burleson

In an earlier editorial, we reviewed the changes for the new Common Core and Essential Standards for North Carolina from the Public School Forum to be implemented in all public schools. Revisions for North Carolina’s Standard Course of Study began in 2008, and thousands of teachers, curriculum experts and subject experts have been involved as the state developed its own Essential Standards and adopted the Common Core Standards.

North Carolina teachers and students will be following an entirely new standard course of study this year in all areas at all grade levels. The newly adopted Common Core state standards will be implemented in K-12 in mathematics and language arts; in other subjects, the state’s own revised Essential Standards will be followed. All of the new standards are available online at the Department of Public Instruction K-12 Curriculum and Instruction/NC Standard Course of Study or contact the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Communication Division at (919) 807-3450.The following is an analysis of the new implementations: 

English Language Arts

Professional development has been under way for more than a year to provide information about the new standards, what they mean for each grade and subject as well as best practices for success with these new standards. Teams of teachers and other educators from each school district have participated in this training and each district has provided professional development for each school. Support has included face-to-face professional development and 17 online professional development modules.

In English language arts, students and parents will notice three major shifts in what teachers emphasize:

• There will be a major emphasis on vocabulary, especially understanding how to properly use words in different contexts and uses.

• The use of evidence will be more important requiring student explanation using examples to support their ideas.

• Students will be reading both informational text as well as literary texts. Information texts will be very important. Informational texts can include everything from newspapers to computer manuals or reading material adults use in their day-to-day lives and workplaces. 


In mathematics, the major shift is in the depth of the new curriculum. Students will continue to learn and master the same core concepts that are so critical in mathematics, but their lessons and studies will be organized to allow students to learn the concepts at a greater level of understanding and depth.

• Better conceptual understanding. For example, students will be required solve and understand how fractions are used, what they mean, how they relate to other math concepts and procedures.

• Mastery of procedural skills. Students need to be proficient in arithmetic, calculation and procedural skills to work with and solve equations.

• Application to the real world using mathematics skills to solve real problems.

• Student homework will undergo changes reducing the amount of problems with more in-depth problems. Students may also be asked to write about their math problems and solutions. 

• High school course titles may be different, but the same college-preparatory math is required. 

As you can see, Common Core and Essential Standards offer changes. I can assure you that whatever changes we implement, we will transition with understanding and always work to do what is best for each student. Avery County Schools is making great progress toward our goals and fulfilling our mission “to graduate every student from high school globally prepared for life in the 21st century through supportive relationships with students, parents, and community.”

Please feel free to contact me at any time. I welcome your input. 
David Burleson