The ELL Field Guide for Common Core Success

“We knew we had one shot to get it right”

Preparing educators and students to meet the more rigorous demands of the Common Core is a tall task for any school system—but in Rialto, California, where more than half the city’s population is Hispanic and about 27 percent of the school district’s 26,500 students are English language learners, it’s even more so.

The Common Core State Standards call for students to analyze complex texts, make arguments based on evidence they find in the text, and discuss their mathematical thinking, among other activities. These skills require a familiarity with academic English that can challenge any student—but especially someone who is still learning the language.

As the Rialto Unified School District readied for the shift to the Common Core, administrators at the district’s 28 schools began working with teachers to articulate the changes they wanted to see from instruction.

“We were doing classroom observations every week, but we weren’t talking the same language,” said Beth Curtis, Executive Director of Elementary Instruction. “We needed alignment across the district to ensure that we were looking for the same practices.”

For help in creating a common framework, Rialto USD turned to School Improvement Network, a professional learning provider for educators.

School Improvement Network aided district leaders in identifying high-impact instructional strategies that would prepare students effectively for the rigor of the Common Core. The company also helped show Rialto’s teachers how to implement these strategies, and district leaders are using School Improvement Network’s software to understand the strengths, and gaps, in teachers’ instruction so t