Common Core

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Helping Schools Transition to Common Core

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for grades K-12 are national educational standards which were adopted by the California State Board of Education in 2010.

AB 484: Guidance for Schools

On October 2, 2013, the Governor signed AB 484, which temporarily suspends most standardized testing. Though CCSA is supportive of transitioning to Common Core standards, as a state we are entering a period where transparency for the public, accountability for continuous improvement, and critically needed data to inform instruction are all at risk. This is a critical moment for California charter schools to come together as a movement and find ways to maintain these crucial components during the transition to Common Core.

Under AB484, the state will pay for administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) field test in ELA or math, but not both. Schools will not receive scores back from the field test because it primarily serves "as a test of the test." In fall 2014, the California Department of Education (CDE) will still issue an API score for schools but it will be either last year's score or a three-year average of API scores, whichever is higher.

It is important for schools to know that while the state has suspended API reporting, Education Code still requires charter schools to demonstrate academic growth school-wide and in subgroups as a primary factor for renewal.

Schools Shouldn't Fly Blind

Operating without assessment data this year is akin to flying an airplane in poor visibility conditions without critical cockpit instruments. The first time the clouds will part is in spring of 2015 with the full SBAC test. Schools shouldn't wait for that moment to realize that they are a foot off the ground or headed in the wrong direction. In 2013-14, schools need "cockpit instruments" (Common Core-aligned interim assessments) to track progress at the student level, at the school level and for the charter school movement.

  1. At the student level: Are students successfully making the transition to Common Core? What mid-course corrections to instruction are needed?
  2. At the school level: How will schools maintain transparency and accountability with parents and the public? How will schools demonstrate academic success school-wide and with subgroups at time of renewal?
  3. At the movement level: CCSA needs to be able to paint a portrait of the movement to be able to successfully advocate for charter schools and push for continued equitable access to facilities, funding and to protect against efforts to re-regulate charters or take away charter autonomy.

What assessments does CCSA recommend?

CCSA has secured a substantial volume discount for California charter schools on the Northwest Evaluation Association's Common Core-aligned MAP assessments. With these robust, computer adaptive assessments, schools will have information on student achievement and growth to inform instruction and to share with families. Schools accessing this substantial discount schools agree to share aggregated data with CCSA to help ensure CCSA can effectively advocate on behalf of the movement during this transition period when public data on student achievement is unavailable statewide. Combining the aggregated data from all charter schools will again allow CCSA to tell the story of California charter schools' success with relevant and timely data.


The discounts apply to NWEA™'s Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) assessments in Math, Reading, and Language Arts and MAP for Primary Grades (MPG) assessments. In 2013-14, California charter schools can pay $10/student to administer the interim assessments throughout the school year (without a requirement to sign a multi-year agreement).

Schools must sign up by 6/30/14 to receive the $10/student price for 2013-14. For 2014-15 and 2015-16, the price will be $11/student unless as a whole the California charter movement has more than 250,000 students using MAP® testing, in which case the price will remain at $10/student. For schools that are existing NWEA clients, the discounted price will be applied as a credit towards the purchase of MAP® assessments in 2014-15.

Sign up now!

This is what your school needs to do to participate and receive this substantial discount:

  • New users of NWEA™'s MAP® assessments: Need to submit a Letter of Intent to NWEA that indicates their interest in purchasing the assessments and chooses a training option and date.
  • Existing users of NWEA™'s MAP® assessments: Need to submit a Letter of Intent to NWEA that indicates their desire to modify their existing agreement to participate in the volume discount/shared data with CCSA.

Questions? You can email questions to CCSA at or to NWEA at

Other Assessment Options

CCSA has also identified the following assessment options for charter schools that will provide robust, standardized, comparable data for at the student, school, and movement level:

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