Common Core Learning Standards Modules

“I often hear comments that the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) refers to the modules,” said Mains. “The CCLS are the targets, or goals, for students. But how do we get them there? That is through the curriculum. The modules are the curriculum, which is different than the standards. In my construction analogy, I think of the curriculum as the floors and the floor plan. There are 14 floors, UPK through 12th grade.

Each floor is what we do at that grade level and there is a floor plan for each level. I think of different subjects as different rooms. New York state contracted to have the modules (or units) for English Language Arts (ELA) and math written to guarantee alignment with the CCLS. They are our curriculum, or the floor plans.”

The modules are different for each grade and are designed specifically to help teachers to better understand and support students to achieve the goals of the CCLS. Each district had the option to adopt, adapt or ignore the modules. If they did not use the modules provided by the state, they would have to write or buy their own.

“Jamestown Schools chose to adapt the modules. We knew the modules were tightly aligned to the new CCLS and they were free to our district. What I have told my staff is that they should use the modules but ultimately, to use their professional judgment to adapt them for their classroom. I think a misperception of the modules is that they must be used word-for-word. Districts can choose to do that but Jamestown has chosen to allow teachers to adapt them for their instruction.”

The biggest complaint about the modules from teachers is that it is too much, too fast.

“I am sensitive to, and understand this complaint. The content and structure is different and much more challenging,” Mains said. “As a district, we try to give all the support we can, but as I told my teachers, any new curriculum is a ‘lift’ and requires more work. But I also know that what we are trying to do is rapidly get students up where they need to be. I don’t know that we can wait to adopt the curriculum a year at a time. Do we wait another 13 years for students to be college and career ready? Or do we work as fast as we can to do it now? The choice was made to do it now.”