Palo Alto Unified School District is proud of its long history of success: our students are encouraged to excel in a rigorous academic environment. Ongoing efforts with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will challenge us to examine current instructional practices as we challenge ourselves to provide even higher levels of engagement and choice for our students. Successful implementation of the CCSS will also require a more robust use of evidence to support our collective efforts at improvement.

With the expertise of our teachers, we are well positioned to learn and grow together as we look to implement the CCSS. We view the standards as an opportunity to increase levels of innovation and to explore new possibilities for challenging each of our students, so that they will have the knowledge and skills they need to enter an ever-changing world.

The CCSS offer a set of minimum standards that aim for long-term improvement in student knowledge and performance. States that adopt the CCSS were invited to add up to 15% additional content at each grade level to customize the CCSS. 

The California State Senate established the Academic Content Standards Commission (ACSC) to develop academic content standards in language arts and mathematics. At least 85 percent of the standards were to consist of the CCSS with up to 15 percent additional material as recommended by the commission. 

The ACSC convened during the summer of 2010 to evaluate the CCSS for rigor and alignment to California standards. They inserted words, phrases, and select California standards in their entirety to maintain California’s high expectations for students.

CCSS California Math Standards 

How to read the math standards

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  • Mathematical Practice Standards (same for all grade levels) and Mathematical Content Standards (particular to each grade)
  • Content standards organized by domains
  • A cluster of standards fall under each domain
  • 8 Mathematical Practices are K-12
  • Practices focus on processes and proficiencies that educators will be helping to develop in their students that will propel their mathematics expertise.

The anatomy of a K-8 Mathematics domain              The anatomy of a Higher Mathematics Domain

Math Practice Standards


High School:

CCSS California English Language Arts Standards

How to read the English Language Arts standards


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There are 3 sections to the ELA Standards- one section for K-5 and two sections for 6-12. Some guidelines for reading the K-5 section:

What are the big ideas of the standards in ELA?

  • Reading: focus is on text complexity and increasingly sophisticated comprehension. Students must make fuller use of text and pull more out of it. They need to consider a wider range of textual evidence when making connections across texts and between ideas, as well as honing in on inconsistencies, ambiguities and poor reasoning in texts.
  • Writing: focus is on three main types: opinion/argument, informational/explanatory, and narrative. Students are required to draw upon evidence from literary and informational texts when writing and to conduct research to aid in their writing. Skills such as planning and organizing writing are delineated under each text type.
  • Listening and Speaking: emphasis is on flexible communication and collaboration. Students must develop strong oral speaking and interpersonal communication skills. They must also learn how to work collaboratively, listen carefully to ideas, integrate multiple sources of information and adapt speech to context and task.
  • Language: still focuses on the ‘rules’ of Standard English, but also highlights craft and informed choice among alternatives. Students also focus on understanding new words and phrases and their relationship to others, nuances of language and building general-academic and domain-specific vocabulary.

CCSS Spanish Language Arts and Literacy Standards 


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California State Standards English Language Development


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If you have questions regarding grades K-5, contact the Elementary Education Office: 650-329-3773. For grades 6-12, contact the Secondary Education Office: 650-329-3717.