State adopts revised English Language Arts and Math Standards

Educators contributed to standards unique to Massachusetts...

MALDEN — The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously today to adopt 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.

The revised standards are the product of more than a year of work by Massachusetts educators and ESE staff. Educators drew from their experience with the existing standards, and the recommendations also reflect feedback received through public comment, including through an online survey.

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; and
  • 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; and
  • Added guidance for making decisions about course sequences that 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," Governor 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."

"I am happy to have voted for these revised standards, and I believe they continue Massachusetts' tradition of high expectations for all students," said Education Secretary James Peyser. 

"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 preK-12 and higher education faculty. I am confident that the standards adopted today will help prepare students for success after high school."

The standards adopted today describe what students should know and be able to do in English language arts and literacy and in math at each grade level. The standards are not a curriculum, and they do not specify which materials teachers should use. In Massachusetts, curriculum, materials and methods are determined at the local level.

The revised standards are the result of a vote the Board took in November 2015 on Commissioner Chester's recommendation to work with Massachusetts preK-12 educators and higher education faculty to identify changes to the English language arts and literacy and math standards that would ensure the Commonwealth's standards match those of the most aspirational education systems in the world and prepare students well for college, careers, and civic participation.

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. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on