HRCSD Common Core State Standards FAQs


    Q: Who sets the standards?

    The Common Core State Standards were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, working together with parents, teachers, school administrators and experts from across the country.


    Q: How much of the standards / curriculum did Hood River County modify from original?

    Teams of teachers in Hood River County have worked together to align and prioritize the most important grade level standards to ensure our students are ready for success at the next grade level and after high school. Our teachers work across schools and more frequently within their Professional Learning Committees (PLCs) at their school in content area (e.g., Algebra) or grade levels (e.g., 4th grade at Westside) to address student progress towards mastery of the CCSS.


    The “standards” should not be confused with the “curriculum.” Our district has autonomy in selecting instructional materials to help our students achieve proficiency on the CCSS – local school boards in Oregon have legal authority to select instructional materials.


    Q: The standards don’t seem new, aren’t we already doing this stuff at school?

    Oregon has had standards since 1991. The standards have been revised several times in response to new learning about what is needed to prepare students for college and the workforce. The CCSS represents a bigger change in states where standards-based instruction in relatively new. Here’s a link to review the CCSS: http://www.corestandards.org

    Q: Since Oregon ranks at the bottom in the U.S. in the amount of instructional time for students, how can Oregon implement Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the same, thorough way that other states with more instructional time can?

    Teachers are studying the required instructional shifts and planning instruction based on the requirements in the CCSS. While we have less time to accomplish all that is required in the CCSS, we cannot hold our students hostage, for no fault of their own, because Oregon has a shorter instructional year – our students need to be prepared for future success all the same.


    Q I hear lots of controversy about CCSS - can you clarify why?

    The CCSS require a different kind of teaching and different kinds of learning than in the past. Any change has detractors and supporters. Teaching to common standards is not new in Oregon – we’ve been teaching to state standards since 1991. What’s new about the CCSS is that we have shared standards with other states, the standards require higher-order thinking skills (such as analyzing and synthesizing information or critiquing and connecting disparate ideas), they are aligned with college and career readiness (rather than basic proficiency), and the state assessment has changed to measure the new standards.


    There is also a perception that the Federal Government is forcing the CCSS on states. In order for states to compete for federal dollars and to receive waivers from the punitive aspects of the No Child Left Behind law, they must demonstrate that students are being taught to “college readiness standards.” This requirement is seen by many as forcing states to adopt the CCSS. 

    Q: Why did HRCSD adopt these standards and assessments?

    The State of Oregon adopted the CCSS and the related assessments. HRCSD is required by law to teach the state standards and ensure our students take the Smarter-Balanced Assessment.


    Q: When is OAKS going away? When will the Smarter-Balanced Assessment start?

    Starting this year, students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment near the end of the school year. OAKS will only be available to 12th graders who have not yet met the graduation requirements in either English language arts or math. Teachers will be teaching to the standards and students will be able to demonstrate their learning in multiple ways, one of which will be on the new assessment.


    Q: Is Smarter Balanced testing tied / related to the CCSS?

    Smarter Balanced Assessment was developed to measure student achievement and growth on the English Language Arts and Math Common Core State Standards.


    Q: I’ve heard the test will only be on the computer and take a long time. 

    The older OAKS assessment was administered to many students 2 or 3 times each year in contrast to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which will only be administered once at the end of the school year. The assessment is estimated to take 7 to 8 hours to complete, but will be broken up over multiple sessions. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a computer-based, adaptive test. This means the questions will become more or less difficult based a student’s answers.


    Q: Does my child need to pass the Smarter Balanced Assessments to earn a diploma?

    The State of Oregon requires all students to demonstrate proficiency in “Essential Skills” in order to earn a standard high school diploma. The Essential Skills include demonstrating proficiency in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. Students can demonstrate they have the “Essential Skills” in a number of ways, one of which is by getting a specific score on the Smarter-Balanced Assessment. Alternatively, students can use other state approved assessments or local performance assessments (called “work samples”) scored on a state-approved rubric. Here’s more information on the “Essential Skills”: http://www.ode.state.or.us/wma/teachlearn/testing/resources/es_overview_eng.pdf.


    Q: What if I want to opt my child out of testing?

    The State of Oregon only permits exemptions from state testing for religious reasons or when a child has such a significant disability that they cannot access the exam. The regulations and processes for opting out can be found at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/wma/teachlearn/testing/admin/asmt_exemption_faq.pdf


    Q: Where can one find more info on Smarter Balanced?