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     Read CTA's Policy Brief on the Common Core State Standards

    Common Core State Standards are K-12 English Language Arts/Literacy and Math standards that will create a clear, consistent level of knowledge for our public school students no matter where they live.

     Q&A from the California Educator

    1. They Will Deepen Problem-Solving Skills and Critical Thinking 
    The math standards will allow educators to focus on fewer topics and dive into them more deeply and rigorously, making sure kids grasp concepts fully so they can master them and apply them to real world problems. The English and literacy standards emphasize critical thinking, comprehension, analysis, and writing, and highlight the growing complexity of texts students must read to prepare for the demands of college and career.

    2. They Promote Greater Opportunity for All Kids 
    Research shows that in some pockets of the country, particularly low-income neighborhoods, students are placed in larger classes with watered-down curriculum and out-of-date learning materials. The result is too many kids graduating without the basic knowledge and skills required for college or the workplace. CCSS, properly implemented, ensures that all students, no matter where they live, will graduate prepared for college, careers, and citizenship.

    3. They Bring Back Flexibility and Creativity 
    Unlike the “drill and kill” test prep associated with NCLB, CCSS only provide the framework of what should be taught –teachers get to decide how they’ll teach them based on their expertise and judgment. Educators can find more creative, hands-on applications that are more engaging for everyone.

    4. They Call for Collaborative Decisions 
    The standards give us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to offer our children a world-class education in every state of the country, but we must be flexible in how they’re implemented, applied and assessed over time. We’re in a process of discovery – as we collect information – administrators, teachers, support staff, and parents must collaborate to ensure the best possible implementation occurs so students can reap the benefits of that collaboration.

    5. Implementation is the Key to Success 
    We must work together with parents and community members to demand a plan that makes sense to transition to the new standards and to ensure next generation assessment systems are fair and include multiple, appropriate and valid measures of student success.



    • Common Core State Standards Initiative Official Website

      From Frequently Asked Questions to Myths vs Facts, this website is a wealth of information to get you started understanding the Common Core State Standards.

    • Common Core Standards Toolkit
      This toolkit provides general background and links to pertinent information about the CCSS, as well as practical assistance and planning.
    • CCSS Video Series

      The Hunt Institute offers a wealth of video resources dedicated to getting educators up to speed with the Common Core Standards.

    • Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

      Use Bloom’s revised taxonomy to help plan effective instruction and challenge students to move from the most basic skills (remembering) to more complex learning which leads to higher order thinking (creating).



    • 5 Ways to Implement CCSS Right

      CCSS have the potential to offer every student, no matter where they live, the same high academic standards. However, proper implementation and the creation of fair, appropriate assessments is critical to success.

    • Overview: Smarter Balanced Assessment
      Aligned with CCSS, Smarter Balanced Assessments go beyond multiple choice to include performance tasks that allow students to demonstrate research, writing, and analytical skills. SBA is designed to give teachers better feedback to inform instruction.
    • Making Sense of CAASPP Scores
      The CDE released results for the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics for grades 3-8 and 11 on September 9, 2015. Parents will soon begin receiving their child’s results and it’s important to help them make sense of the scores—what they mean and what they don’t.




    The implementation of Common Core State Standards is one of the most significant opportunities to improve public education in our time. There is strong support for the goals of Common Core Standards among educators, but some are concerned that they are not receiving the tools and resources necessary to get implementation of the standards right.

    Many school districts have been slow to provide resources to support implementation of Common Core, if at all. NEA and BetterLesson have teamed up to bring together more than 130 outstanding teachers from across the country to share user-friendly and classroom-ready lessons around Common Core.

    The new site features creative math and ELA teachers for grades 9-11, not only sharing how they teach, but also their reflections about what worked and didn’t work for them in developing the Common Core lessons, along with tips and tricks for successfully implementing Common Core.

    The site currently features more than 3,000 comprehensive lessons and plans to have more than 16,000 free Common Core aligned lessons by 2015, including narratives, videos, personal reflections and classroom resources.

    Meet the Master Teachers behind the lesson plans 

    Browse the lesson plans




     Read CTA's Policy Brief on Local Control Funding Formula

    CTA believes the state and federal government should provide adequate funding for education in order for school districts to fulfill the goals of providing a quality education and necessary resources to meet the individual needs of all students.

    We agree with the Governor that we must make education in our state more equitable, “Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.” CTA also agrees that students with the greatest needs (English language learners, foster youth and low-income students) require additional resources to achieve the state’s academic standards. That is why when it was first implemented during the 2013-14 school year, the CTA State Council of Education adopted its Budget Principles that define support for the Governor’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as one that provides equal funding for students most in need, restoration of the deficit factor, an annual cost-of-living adjustment while the formula is being implemented over a period of several years, and full funding for K-3 Class Size Reduction Program. CTA supports the $2.8 billion in on-going funds for the LCFF as stated in the most recently-adopted CTA Budget Principles for 2016. Additionally, CTA believes funding must be based on enrollment and that quantifiable data is consistently applied and publicly available. Funding for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards is of paramount importance to CTA, therefore, we commend the Governor for allocating $1 billion to do so.

    Key Points
    • CTA believes the LCFF addresses education funding on the basis of fairness and equity among all of California’s students. At a time when more than 50 percent of the state’s population is comprised of ELL students and others who require additional resources to educate, it’s our responsibility to stand behind a proposal that seeks to provide a fair and equal opportunity for all students to succeed.
    • After years of drastic cuts, it is necessary for the future of our children and the future of California that money owed to students and public education be restored. Funding for California schools and colleges had been cut by more than $20 billion in the four years prior to Proposition 30. Our students deserve a chance to focus on learning instead of facing threats of larger class sizes, fewer classes to choose from, higher tuition and fewer teachers in the classroom.
    • At the same time, CTA supports the re-distribution of these dollars so that equity and fairness can finally be established after all the years of major inequities with the current funding system. We applaud the Governor for taking on such a bold and historic proposal when he did.
    • Funding for the implementation of the CCSS is extremely important in order to give educators the proper training and professional development to make the transition as seamless and efficient for all, as well to provide students with textbooks and resources reflective of the new standards. While it will take a lot more than $1 billion the Governor proposed, it certainly helps us move in the right direction.
    • CTA supports the Class Size Reduction program for grades K-3 within the LCFF, but maintain it should return to the 20 to 1 ratio as it was prior to 2007-08. Studies consistently demonstrate greater student achievement among students in smaller classes where educators can reach each student and provide individualized attention based on needs and strengths.
    • The LCFF allocates resources to school districts, county offices and charter schools based on student needs by providing supplemental and concentration grants. The LCFF also provides schools with greater flexibility and greater authority over these resources and it requires each district to adopt a local accountability plan. CTA believes the accountability plan must assure that supplemental dollars are sent to local school districts and spent on disadvantaged students.
    • California is 46th in the nation in per-pupil spending - up slightly from the rank of 49th in recent years - and it has consistently hovered in that range during the last 20 years. While the LCFF does not provide sufficient funding to get California to at least the national average, it’s a proposal that will significantly increase overall state spending for all schools while providing additional resources to disadvantaged students.
    • CTA welcomes the upturn in the economy as we move into better financial times as a state and funding is fully restored to our schools.


    California voters, parents and teachers do not support school voucher programs because they hurt students and schools by draining scarce resources away from public education. California voters overwhelming rejected voucher initiatives in 2000 and in 1993.

    All voucher proposals reduce funding to neighborhood schools, meaning fewer textbooks, fewer teachers per student and more overcrowded classrooms. At the same time these programs cost taxpayers millions of dollars and increase bureaucratic and administrative costs.

    Voucher programs provide no accountability to taxpayers. Both initiatives proposed in California would have created unregulated voucher schools that receive taxpayer money, but would have been allowed to make financial decisions in secret without any financial audits. In addition, voucher school operators would were not required to have any training or experience educating children and voucher school teachers were not required to have a credential or even a college degree.

    There is no link between vouchers and student achievement. Studies continue to show there have been no significant improvements in student achievement in voucher schools. In fact, the most dramatic improvements in student achievement have occurred in places where vouchers do not exist.

    Vouchers do not give parents real educational choice. Participating private schools may limit enrollment, and in many cases may maintain exclusive admissions policies and charge tuition and fees far above the amount provided by the voucher. Unlike public schools, private and religious schools can — and do — discriminate in admissions on the basis of prior academic achievement, standardized test scores, interviews with applicants and parents, gender, religion, income, special needs, and behavioral history.



    • 5 Facts Everyone Should Know
      American's prefer improving their public schools over spending money on voucher programs.
    • Vouchers: What's at Stake?
      Vouchers will never provide every child with access to a greatschool.
    • Voucher Advocates Shift Focus
      A recent report finds that voucher proponents are focusing more on the perceived benefits of vouchers, rather than academic achievement.






    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed into law by President Barack Obama replaces the deeply flawed No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NEA members and public education supporters accomplished something incredible in their work to pass ESSA, finally getting lawmakers to realize what educators have been saying all along – that test scores alone cannot accurately measure the quality of a school.

    Now states can rely on more than just math and reading test scores when determining a school’s success. They can look at things like robust arts and athletics programs. Full time counselors and nurses and librarians. Strong parent and family engagement programs. Rigorous AP classes and engaging electives. So tell us: what’s on your Opportunity Dashboard?

    If you list your priorities, NEA can better communicate with lawmakers about the features and systems that should be included in each state’s ESSA plans. And, if you tell NEA what you want to see on the Opportunity Dashboard in California, they'll be able to connect you with chances to talk with those lawmakers yourself, and other ways to get involved in the vital work to implement ESSA where you live.


    President Obama, on Dec. 10, 2015, signed into law a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with a bill that fixes the failed NCLB. The NEA-supported Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), puts an end to the "one size fits all" NCLB era after 14 long years. The U.S. Senate on Dec. 9 overwhelmingly passed the bill - S. 1177 - with the House of Representatives having voted YES just days before. President Obama's signature on the bill begins a new chapter for public education. 


    ESSA furthers all three of NEA’s core goals by:

    • creating an opportunity “dashboard” to help ensure equity and opportunity for all students;
    • reducing the amount of standardized testing and decoupling test scores and high-stakes decision making;
    • ensuring that educators’ voices are part of decision-making at the federal, state, and local levels.


    Ushering in a new era in public education, ESSA ensures that every child has equal opportunity to a high-quality education, regardless of ZIP code. It empowers educators as trusted professionals to make school and classroom decisions while keeping the focus on the students most in need.

     CTA President Eric C. Heins' statement
     NEA Today article
     NEA President Lily Eskelsen García's statement
     Key points on ESSA
     US Dept. of Education Transitioning to ESSA FAQs


    Working up to the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):



    Back on July 16, the Senate voted 81-17 to pass the bipartisan, NEA-supported Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177). The victory was a product of unprecedented member engagement that included 216,000 emails and 15,000 phone calls to Congress; 32,000 tweets; 26,000 petition signers; 367,000 views of; and nearly 2,000 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and key staff by state affiliate leaders, NEA officers and board members, and lobbyists.

    The bill improves upon current law significantly in many ways, including all three of the top areas where progress is needed according to our members: 

    • Providing more opportunity for all students, including a “dashboard” of key indicators to identify and help close opportunity gaps;
    • Reducing the high-stakes associated with standardized tests, so students have more time to learn and teachers have more time to teach; and,
    • Empowering educators by giving them a greater voice in decision making. 

    S. 1177 returns decision-making to the people who know the names of the students they educate—a paradigm shift from No Child Left Behind that will help restore the original focus on providing opportunities for all students, especially those most in need.  

    Read CTA President Eric C. Heins' "Thank You" message to California educators for their efforts in helping get the bill passed. View "Thank You" video by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who applauds educators nationwide for standing together and fighting for our students. 


    April 11, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The landmark federal education law, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1965, was the first general aid-to-education program ever adopted by Congress. Focused primarily on delivering federal aid to help level the playing field for poor and minority students, ESEA was part of Johnson’s War on Poverty.

    In the years since it was first enacted, reauthorizations of the law have expanded the federal role in mandating accountability standards and consequences. 2001’s No Child Left Behind took those mandates to a new extreme, implementing a system where schools were labeled “failing” and imposing grossly underfunded requirements and sanctions on schools that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (a new standardized test based measure) toward NCLB’s admirable but unrealistic goal of universal student proficiency by 2014. NCLB’s “one size fits all” approach to school improvement was widely criticized by educators from its inception and throughout its fifteen year implementation.

    On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the latest incarnation of ESEA, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing the deeply flawed No Child Left Behind. The new law promised to de-emphasize the high stakes testing associated with NCLB so students have more time to learn and teachers have more time to teach. The law uses multiple measures to assess school success, and empowers educators with a far greater voice in educational and instructional decisions. The new law was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress.

     View History Timeline


    Kids Not Profits

    CTA Launches 'Kids Not Profits' Campaign Calling for Charter School Accountability and Exposing Billionaires' Agenda


    In line with our policy and sponsored legislation, CTA launched the Kids Not Profits campaign on August 31. This advocacy and public awareness campaign is calling for more accountability and transparency of California charter schools and exposing the coordinated agenda by a group of billionaires to divert money from California's neighborhood public schools to privately-managed charter schools. These same billionaires are spending record amounts of money to influence local legislative and school board elections across the state. 

    Together with parents, fellow educators, and civil rights and community groups, we have been talking about the need for accountability and transparency at privately-managed charter schools for some time now. We've sponsored many bills over the last few years. AB 709 was approved and sent to the governor in late August. SB 322 was debated on August 30, but did not have the votes to pass. 

    The Kids Not Profits campaign includes: 

    CTA proudly represents more than 5,000 charter school educators and is working with many others who want to join with us in standing up for students and accountability. When the charter law was passed in California in 1992, no one ever intended it to be a playground for billionaires who want to profit off students and push their agenda on the rest of us. 

    Thank you for working every day to provide our students with the public education they need and deserve. Public education must always be about students, NOT profits for billionaires.