By Brad Ruff, Program Coordinator, AVID Region 8, Kern County and Phil Britton, Regional Director, Region 8
What are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?
The Common Core State Standards are national educational standards that set out what students are expected to learn and demonstrate proficiency in at each grade level in English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Studies, and Mathematics.
According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, the FAQ page answers the question, “Why do we need educational standards?” stating:
We need standards to ensure that all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Common standards will help ensure that students are receiving a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state. Common standards will provide a greater opportunity to share experiences and best practices within and across states that will improve our ability to best serve the needs of students.
While the debate continues in the few states that have not adopted the Common Core Standards, 45 states have done so, and they are preparing to employ the standards. We’ve been asked by several AVID sites across the country about how AVID “fits” with the Standards. The following is part one of a two-part blog that will address those questions.
AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for
college readiness and success in a global society.
AVID’s Alignment with the Common Core State Standards
Part one of two blogs.
The AVID Mission Statement addresses goals that are well-aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Both AVID and CCSS focus on providing students with “key cognitive strategies and skills that students need for college and careers” (Conley 17). Both also emphasize development and refinement of student competence in Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading (WICOR in AVID parlance) and naturally lead to professional development in the teaching of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language (CCSS College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards) so that teachers have the opportunity to add to their cognitive toolkits in order to teach literacy skills effectively as they implement rigorous, higher-level thinking activities that help students achieve success across content areas.
In his article entitled “Common Core,” published in the March 2011 edition of Educational Leadership, David Conley asserts that “the common standards and assessments can vault education over the barrier of low-level test preparation and toward the goal of world-class learning outcomes for all students” (Conley 17). This assertion is also quite apparent in AVID’s Mission Statement, and AVID educators have been empowering students to become college-ready and college-prepared through the use of effective learning strategies for more than three decades. The schoolwide effect of AVID affords both the AVID elective students and students at large to benefit from data-driven, highly effective teaching and learning strategies that are integrated into classes across the curriculum. The philosophy of the AVID system has always been to address student needs and bridge instructional gaps in order to provide all students with an education that will lead to success at the next level, be it in an Algebra 1 class in middle school or an Advanced Placement Composition class in high school. Both AVID and CCSS believe in preparing students to become global thinkers who are prepared to rise to any academic challenge and perform just as well on high-stakes exams as on daily assignments, a belief that is also supported by Conley through his five “Key Cognitive Strategies” in which all students must be proficient:
Precision and Accuracy (Conley 19)
Just as the CCSS will address a wide range of student learning instead of focus on the completion of specific content, so will the “common assessments . . . measure a wider range of student learning than current tests do” (Conley 20). With this in mind, it is apparent that AVID and CCSS will dovetail each other nicely with CCSS representing the “what” and AVID the “how”.
Perhaps the best way to recognize this complementary relationship is to examine a specific standard and provide examples of how AVID supports the mastery of the standard through strategies and materials presented in the AVID manuals. Below is a College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard for a specific grade level.
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
Grade 7 students:
1. Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Below are some useful strategies from a single AVID text that teachers could integrate into their instruction to help students master the Anchor Standard for Reading. The AVID text is part of the AVID Schoolwide Library of manuals at an AVID school available to AVID elective teachers and to any teacher at the school. Many schools have multiple copies of the AVID manuals, and they are used extensively across the curriculum by all teachers.
Critical Reading: Deep Reading Strategies for Expository Texts
Strategy 2: Working Inside and Outside of a Text
Strategy 4: Rereading the Text
Strategy 5: Marking the Text
Strategy 6: Pausing to Connect Ideas Within a Text
Strategy 7: Writing in the Margins
Strategy 8: Charting the Text
Strategy 10: Summarizing the Text
For even more activities containing additional scaffolded steps for students with second-language acquisition challenges, the strategies, activities, and lessons below appear in another AVID manual available to all teachers at an AVID school.
The Write Path: English Language Learners
2.2 Prereading Scaffolding
2.3 “Through the Reading” Scaffolding
2.4 “After-Reading” Text Representations
2.5 Summarizing Expository Text
Because AVID teachers are trained in the use of the strategies and have ready access to the manuals, they are well equipped to address the CCSS components and help students master one standard before they are guided to spiral upwards to the next one.
Part two will continue to examine how AVID strategies and methodologies support CCSS.