For teachers who are proficient at navigating their current state standards, the Common Core Standards may have a completely different look. In the area of mathematics, the content of the document is divided into domains, clusters, and standards. Domains are the overarching term and refer to a large group of related standards. Clusters are groups of related standards. Because mathematics is a connected subject, standards from different domains and clusters may be closely related. Finally, the standards define what students should understand and be able to do. An example from fourth grade would be: Domain – Operations and Algebraic Thinking; Clusters – Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems (three separate standards), Gain familiarity with factors and multiples (one standard), and Generate and analyze patterns (one standard).
Within the document, each grade level does not necessarily have the same domains or number of domains as the preceding grade. However, the standards are aligned vertically from one grade to the next. Unlike some current state standards, the Common Core State Standards do not spell out every step in the instructional process and some do not have example problems. Therefore, educators are going to have to investigate the new standards thoroughly and translate them into new instructional practices.