State adopts revised learning standards in math and English

In this file photo, Terence Ray stretches to connect with a high five as his bus leaves the West Tisbury School last June. — Sam Moore

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has adopted revised learning standards in math and in English language arts and literacy. The revised standards are unique to Massachusetts, and embody the commonwealth’s commitment to maintaining the highest-quality curriculum standards in the nation, according to a press release.

The revised standards are the product of more than a year of work by Massachusetts educators and ESE staff. In English language arts and literacy, the changes include:

  • Multiple cross-references to make the reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language standards more coherent;
  • Instructional examples and samples of student writing from Massachusetts classrooms to clarify the meaning of the standards;
  • An explanation of how literacy instruction — particularly in the early elementary years — is intertwined with mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, and other subjects in a well-balanced curriculum.

In math, the changes include:

  • Stronger learning progressions for pattern recognition in the early grades; the measurement of circles in the middle grades; and ratio, rate, and proportions in the middle grades;
  • Added guidance for making decisions about course sequences, which includes pathways to calculus and other advanced mathematics courses.

“Massachusetts’ ability to continually adapt and update our educational standards is an important part of why our students and public schools lead the nation in many categories,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “I am confident that the standards adopted today, with collaboration from educators, will continue to help successfully guide our students throughout their Massachusetts education.”

“While many people have expressed concerns about the role that the Common Core State Standards played in developing our 2010 standards, I want to make it clear that the 2017 standards are the commonwealth’s own,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “These revised standards were developed by Massachusetts educators, and represent the input of hundreds of the commonwealth’s pre-K to 12 and higher education faculty. I am confident that the standards adopted today will help prepare students for success after high school.”

The department will help districts implement the new standards starting with the 2017–18 school year. The next-generation MCAS will be aligned to the standards starting in spring 2018.