Curriculum

Empowering Students as Learners

Chester Community Charter School takes pride in its curriculum that embodies the school’s mission of “Empowering Students as Learners.” The curriculum provides challenging academic experiences while maintaining strong support for students’ social, personal, and career goals. The curriculum integrates assessment data and research-based instructional strategies with 21st century learning environments that incorporate digital technology and “Universal Design for Learning.” Students thereby have many ways to express and represent information as well as creative options that instill motivation and persistence.  

Curricula at CCCS is designed to promote student success in achieving the Common Core State Standards, a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) that outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. These standards will be met using instruction that is technologically- and project-based, and that allows students to master skills through engaging, high-interest, hands-on activities.

The Common Core Standards

What are the Common Core Standards?

The Common Core State Standards are an effort by states to define a common core of knowledge and skills that students should develop in K-12 education, regardless of the state they live in, so they will graduate high school prepared for college or careers. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S territories have adopted the Common Core.

The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit-bearing, entry-level courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce. The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language, and mathematics.

The Pennsylvania State Board adopted Common Core Standards in July 2010. Since that time, a group of Pennsylvania educators created a set of PA Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. These new standards both mirror the content and rigor of the Common Core, and also reflect the organization and design of the PA Academic Standards. Additionally, the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science/ Technical Subjects will be appended to their respective PA Academic Standards.

The anticipated outcome of the new standards, coupled with improved student monitoring tools, will no doubt result in the empowerment of students who are prepared to succeed in their academic and career pursuits upon completion of their high quality Chester Community Charter School grades K-8 experience.

How will the Common Core change classroom practices?

To meet the new standards, teachers are being asked to make changes in classroom practices that will better prepare students for the learning and working environments of 21st century higher education and careers. New practices include:

  • Daily lessons focus on student inquiry, and include multiple opportunities for collaboration.
  • Students “struggle” more to find solutions, a process that requires a healthy dose of metacognition.
  • Educators increase/improve students’ communication skills using higher-level questions that require evidence-based reasoning in both oral and written responses.

English Language Arts Standards

Chester Community Charter School curriculum maps are aligned with the PA standards and assessment anchors and provide a framework that integrates the PA English Language Arts (ELA) literacy standards across the curriculum and promotes higher levels of literacy. The new ELA standards emphasize balance of informational and literary texts in grades K-5; building knowledge in the disciplines in grades 6-12; text complexity as the most important factor in developing skilled readers at each grade level; rich and rigorous conversations (in both speaking and writing) that are dependent on a common text; written arguments that respond to ideas, events, and facts that are presented in the texts students read instead of the personal narrative; and academic vocabulary that crosses content areas and is found in both informational and literary text and is frequently seen on SAT tests.

Standards for Mathematical Practice

The new mathematics standards require three shifts in the focus, coherence, and rigor of instructional practices. Focus requires significantly narrowing the scope of math content in each grade and deepening considerations of major math topics. Coherence is about making math make sense. Rigor refers to greater intensity in learning aspects of mathematics: conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and applications.

Monitoring Student Performance

The Chester Community Charter School curriculum is organized to meet the developmental and academic needs of all students by means of a student-by-student tracking process that looks at each child’s progress as measured by assessments linked directly to the standards. The school uses data from multiple student assessments to determine students’ academic needs; to provide interventions when necessary; and to improve instruction. Formative instruments of student progress in reading include GRADE and DIBELS Next, and in reading and math include the i-Ready Diagnostic assessments. The process allows school personnel to closely monitor student achievement and to identify specific skills needing remediation.

The anticipated outcome of the new standards, coupled with improved student monitoring tools, will no doubt result in the empowerment of students who are prepared to succeed in their academic and career pursuits upon completion of their high quality Chester Community Charter School grades K-8 experience.