Administration > Common Core

Columbus Municipal School District

Common Core
State Standards Implementation Plan

Office of the Superintendent of Education

For More Information on CMSD’s Common Core State Standards Implementation Planning, contact Dr. Martha Liddell, Interim Superintendent of Education

Common Core
Frequently Asked Questions

Q.      Who came up with the Common Core State Standards?

A.      The Common Core State Standards Initiative website states, “Parents, teachers, school administrators and experts from across the country together with state leaders, through their membership in the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center,) led the effort to develop a common set of state standards. In addition, CCSSO and the NGA Center have provided public comment periods for everyone to submit feedback on the draft standards documents. Those comments have been incorporated into the final standards.”

Q.      When did the State of Mississippi adopt Common Core State Standards?

A.      The Mississippi Board of Education officially adopted the Common Core State Standards as described in State Superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham’s Monday Memo date June 28, 2010. The Common Core State Standards is an effort (led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) to establish a single set of clear educational standards for English-Language Arts and Mathematics that states can share and adopt. The standards have been informed by the best available evidence and the highest standards across the country and globe. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour recommended the adoption of Common Core State Standards in 2009. The Mississippi Department of Education is the state education authority charged with implementation facilitator for Mississippi school districts.

Q.     What are essential learning outcomes and how do they relate to the Common Core State Standards?  

A.      Essential Learning Outcomes are statements that articulate the most important knowledge and skills students should know and be able to do. Doug Reeves (2002) outlines three characteristics of Essential Learning Outcomes in The Leader’s Guide to Standards:
1. Endurance (what students should know and be able to do forever)
2. Leverage (by knowing and being able to do ___, it will help students learn more and more)
3. Prepare for next level (by knowing and being able to do ___, students are ready for the next grade, college or career)

Columbus Municipal School District Implementation Team (CMSD) and Principals will use Common Core State Standards to develop essential learning outcomes. These statements will create student profiles that articulate what we want students to know and be able to do when they exit a course or grade.

Q.      How/when will parents receive information and progress reports regarding Common Core State Standards implementation? 

A.      Parents and other stakeholders will receive information regularly regarding the MDE-to-District-to-Schools implementation of  Common  Core State Standards progress through the Project 2020 Leadership Conference (November 2011), PTO meetings at schools and webinars, links and Q &A’s and newsletters posted at  

Q.     Does curriculum mapping and the Common Core State Standards State Standards complement each other?

A.      Yes. Curriculum mapping is a process that allows teachers to take a set of standards, like the Common Core State Standards, and “unpack” them. Unpacking helps teachers identify the skills and thinking students will need to know and be able to do in order to meet the standards. Curriculum mapping also involves creating essential learning outcomes (see question above), planning instruction, and developing other supporting documents, such as common assessments.

Q.      Will all grade levels implement Common Core State Standards at the same time which could contribute to significant learning gaps between grade levels?

A.      No. The Mississippi Department of Education recommends school districts implement K-2 first followed by Grades 3-5, 6-8 and finally 9-12 to minimize significant gaps in learning giving teachers and students more time to transition to deeper levels of learning. Common Core State Standards outline a clear trajectory of skills in reading, writing, speaking/listening, and language that increase in rigor K-12. Part of curriculum mapping will be ongoing conversations so teachers can identify essential learning for students in order to address the Standards. This will be easy to do because the same standards are articulated K-12 which will enable teachers can have vertical conversations.

Q.      What professional development will CMSD provide to support teachers in implementing the Common Core State Standards?

A.      Professional development will be provided as part of Columbus Municipal School District’s transition to the Common Core State Standards. Principals and Curriculum Coordinators serving as “Academic Coaches” will be instrumental in sharing information and training with the teachers at their grade level and school.
CMSD’s Common Core Standards Implementation Plan also includes a multi-tiered district and school leadership dynamics including opportunities for district and school level professional development, reflection on best practices seminars, Leadership Summits and Conferences, CMSD Achievement Tours and State Common Core Tours where school leadership teams will visit exemplary Common Core enriched school districts and STAR school districts to gain insight into successful instructional practices.
Educators and parents can gain valuable insight into learning practices for raising student achievement through “common core standards” and “high expectations” that are currently underway in CMSD’s classrooms. Please visit the Common Core State Standards Initiative at, The Buck Institute for Education website at, PD360 website at he Mississippi Department of Education website at to learn more about CMSD’s innovations in learning in action.

Q.      Will Columbus School District’s new Project 2020: From At Risk to Excellence dropout prevention and student achievement initiative address Common Core State Standards?  

A.      Yes, Project 2020 combines research-based best practices in closing achievement gaps and common core standards; vision and knowledge work where administrators and educators are committed to dreaming and doing. The project’s career and college readiness components addresses Columbus Schools and the community’s desire to educate for the future realizing that a “one size fit all” education system is leaving far too many students behind. Project 2020 is “missionary work” without the passport. If compassionate Americans can extend goodwill across the globe, then surely we can do more to prevent 30% of our students from dropping out of school. As Larry Bell, a national advocate for the power of teachers, told Columbus educators recently at Columbus Middle School, “somebody needs you.” (Learn more about Project 2020 at Columbus Schools’ website.)

Q.      Should teachers start adjusting their instructional practices and methodology standards away the traditional “mile wide an inch deep” instructional practices of the past?

A.      Yes, the standards we teach must be aligned to the new common core assessments that will be implemented by the Mississippi Department of Education in 2014. The new common core assessments will include computerized tests that will be given throughout the school year students take at the end of the year. It will be confusing for students and teachers if we teach one set of standards but assess a different set. Teachers could begin focusing on the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards and 8 mathematical practices in the Common Core State Standards. Both articulate the habits we want students to develop K-12.

In addition, to address the ELA/Literacy Common Core State Standards, teachers will begin using more informational text and writing in their classes daily. Incorporating more reading, writing, rubrics, problem solving and higher order thinking skills (HOTS) into K-12 CMSD classrooms is a MUST for students to be successful achievers on common core state  standards and assessments. Writing across the curriculum can no longer be optional or occasional in K-12 classrooms in Columbus School District.






Columbus Municipal School District
Brandon Central Services Center
Mailing: P.O. Box 1308
Columbus, Mississippi 39703
Physical: 2630 McArthur Drive
Columbus, Mississippi 39705
Phone: 662-241-7400
Fax: 662-241-7453
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