CORE Newsletter Vol. 1  
January 2013
New Year, New Opportunities


2012 was CORE's sophomore year. It was a year of growth in our size and of focus on our mission. We grew from seven districts to eight with the addition of Oakland Unified to the CORE consortium. Our districts honed in on ways to support effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards with teacher teams working together to create and pilot Common Core-aligned materials. Check out the video highlighting this work in the next section of this newsletter. CORE district leaders also spent time comparing research and approaches to support and improve great teaching and learning in our classrooms. 


In 2013, CORE district teams will continue collaborating to develop resources and professional development opportunities to help make the Common Core State Standards an effective tool for preparing students for successful futures. CORE is also preparing for an anticipated opportunity for districts to apply for a federal ESEA waiver that has the potential to give all California districts more freedom to use federal funds to support great teachers while holding ourselves accountable for improving student achievement. The year ahead is sure to be one of exciting collaboration!


CORE Designs Common Core Implementation


CORE is building momentum for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Representatives from each of the CORE districts meet regularly to share and learn from each other ways to effectively implement the Common Core. As an outcome of this collaborative effort, teams of teachers and teaching coaches from all eight CORE districts participated in a hands-on Common Core Summer Design Institute last summer.  Get an inside look at CORE's Summer Design Institute experience by watching this video.  

CORE Summer Design Institute
CORE's 2012
Summer Design Institute


At the Institute, the teachers and coaches heard from nationally renowned experts about key instructional and learning shifts required for successful implementation of the Common Core standards. The participants also worked in cross-district teams that each created three grade-level performance task modules that are aligned to the content and rigor of the Common Core and can be used for formative assessment purposes. 


The performance tasks created by the teacher teams were offered to CORE districts to pilot in the classroom last fall. More than 400 teachers participated in the pilot, and an estimated 20,000 students experienced the piloted materials. Following the in-classroom test, the performance tasks will be cataloged and made available for any educator through an open-source formative assessment item bank.

CORE is now on Twitter! Follow us @COREdistricts

You can also find us online at
In This Issue
New Year, New Opportunities
CORE Designs Common Core Implementation
Recommended Reading
Meet Our Research Partners
Integrating the Arts in Common Core
In the News
Recommended Reading: 


Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam


Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Reform by Michael Fullan


Follow us on Twitter
View CORE Videos on YouTube

1130 K Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Editor: Hilary McLean
CORE Communications Director
Meet Our Research Partners


CORE works with several partner research organizations to document the work of CORE, develop better understanding of how collaborative organizations learn, and gain insights on how innovations can be shared between districts and brought to scale. 


CORE's chief research partners are California Education Partners, the Regional Educational Laboratory West housed at WestEd (REL West), and the Center for The Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL). The organizations are each engaging in different ways. 

  • California Education Partners' research arm observes CORE working groups and Board meetings, conducts surveys, and interviews participants in CORE's work in order to document CORE's work and progress overall. 
  • REL West has conducted literature reviews on key topics for CORE, including talent management and teacher evaluation systems, ESEA waivers, Race to the Top applications, assessments, and provided technical assistance with webinars and professional development related to Common Core State Standards implementation. REL West will also conduct a literature review and provide other assistance with CORE's work to integrate the arts in Common Core implementation. 
  • The CFTL is facilitating research around implementation of CORE's pilot of Common Core-aligned performance tasks that were developed by teachers at CORE's Summer Design Institute.  
Arts by Design: CORE's Arts Integration Institute


CORE is supporting districts' work to provide deeper learning opportunities that prepare students for college and career by integrating standards-based arts instruction. The implementation of the Common Core State Standards provides a great opportunity to bring arts instruction back into the classroom and to integrate the arts with other content such as math, ELA, history, science, and social science.


The arts give students opportunities to make sense of academic content and learning in real world contexts. Engaging with the arts also stimulates the communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity needed for 21st century success.


CORE held a three-day arts integration institute in November called Arts by Design. Arts coordinators, core content teachers, and art teachers for many CORE districts met to learn from each other how to use the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards to improve standards-based arts instruction and learn how to use the arts to improve instruction and assessment of students in a variety of academic subjects. 


Participants developed new resources that measure student performance on content and VAPA standards by building arts components into the Common Core-aligned performance task modules that were produced through CORE's Summer Design Institute. 

In the News


Ed Source Today  July 17th, 2012


The charge to the teachers and administrators from eight school districts seemed simple enough: Create an activity, called a performance assessment task, that would show, when solved, that students understand a unit covering Common Core standards that California and 45 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted. Really understand, not by simply choosing a multiple-choice answer, but by explaining or illustrating in multiple ways the depth of their knowledge. 


Sacramento Bee Viewpoints: by Jeff Cuneo   July 27, 2012

In June, the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education celebrated the top two teachers in our district for the 2011-12 school year. These teachers were acknowledged as outstanding classroom educators, excellent collaborators and unrivaled school leaders while working with an unmatched passion and dedication.


Pilot program brings many students' first encounter with common core

SI&A Cabinet Report   September 17, 2012


Even before the common core standards won adoption by a majority of U.S. governors two years ago, the country's education elite were well aware of the sea change the new curriculum would bring to the nation's schools.


Coalition of reason among districts may pave way for others

Oakland Tribune editorial   October 20, 2012


Anyone not worried about the current state of public education in California hasn't been paying attention. Not to put too fine a point on it, public education in the Golden State is a mess. In their own ways, teachers, unions, taxpayers, parent advocates, business groups, administrators and, yes, newspaper editorialists have all acknowledged it.


Fresno coaxes union to sign, enters Race to the Top  

EdSource Today  November 3, 2012


If they awarded points for effort, Fresno Unified would get two Race to the Top grants.

After a marathon meeting that concluded early Friday morning, Superintendent Michael Hanson and leaders of the Fresno Teachers Association agreed on wording of the district's application for a $37.3 million piece of the $400 million competition open to districts nationwide.


Feds deny state a No Child Left Behind waiver

EdSource Today  December 21, 2012


The formal letter from Washington hasn't arrived, but the verdict has: The federal Department of Education has turned down California's application for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law.