One School of Thought

Moving Toward the Common Core

May 2015

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For too long there has been a gap between the skills we know graduates need and the content knowledge our previous state standards prescribed. While 91 percent of high school educators said in 2009 that their students were “well prepared” or “very well prepared” for college, only 26 percent of college professors agreed.

This paper is our vision and roadmap for realizing these dreams for our students. As teachers, we have outlined how the transition to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) should look. We have drawn upon academic research on the benefits of deeper learning; best practices from around our city, state and nation; and interviews with and surveys of our colleagues, students and communities. We ask for the patience, time and scaffolding necessary to make the transition a success.

Working together for our students

Every policymaker in our system, from our statehouse to our classroom, plays a vital role in ensuring student success. But we all work best when we all work together.


  • The state should continue to allow individual districts to innovate and meet local needs, but still set and communicate a broad vision and overarching goals, and provide data so that districts are held accountable to their own plans.

  • Districts, and specifically Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), should provide a clear local plan that enables each school to self-assess and then lay out a path forward.

  • United Teachers Los Angeles and unions throughout the state should advocate on behalf of high-quality implementation of the Common Core at both the negotiating table and in the public discourse, taking into account the needs of both its members and students.

  • Schools should utilize their proximity to both teachers and parents to build buy-in at the local level.

Moving toward the Common CoreThe origin of the Common Core

About the Teacher Action Team

We are a team of 16 teachers who met for eight weeks to review research on different national efforts to improving Common Core implementation. We also reviewed local strategies being proposed or piloted by LA’s Promise, LAUSD, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, Youth Policy Institute and local charter networks. We conducted more than 150 peer and administrator interviews, and interviewed dozens of our students, to gather critical stakeholder feedback. We also surveyed more than 350 E4E-Los Angeles members and non-members to understand the most essential strategies for improving Common Core implementation.

Jerald Amaya English Teacher at Huntington Park Institute of Applied Medicine

Jesse Balderas 4th- and 5th-grade Teacher at Broadway Elementary School

Jessica Cuellar Special Education Teacher at Nueva Esperanza Charter Academy

Xochitl Gilkeson English Teacher at El Camino Real Charter High School

Lyeah Granderson 1st-grade Teacher Woodcrest Elementary School

Lucia Huerta 4th-grade Teacher at George J. De La Torre Elementary

Jennifer Lopez 6th-grade History Teacher at Nueva Esperanza Charter Academy

Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher 8th-grade English Teacher at Dodson Middle School

Charell Milton 2nd-grade Teacher at Barack Obama Elementary School

Angela Palmieri Dual Immersion Kindergarten Teacher at John Muir Elementary School

Adam Paskowitz Science and Engineering Teacher at Banning Academy of Creative and Innovative Sciences

Lisa Quon-Heinsen Kindergarten and 1st-grade Teacher at San Pascual Elementary School

Meghann Seril 3rd-grade Teacher at Broadway Elementary School

Erica Silva 3rd-grade Teacher at KIPP Comienza Community Prep

Debbie Siriwardene 5th-grade Teacher at Leland Street Elementary School

LaTanya Smith 5th-grade Teacher at Fenton Avenue Charter School