Saturday, February 08, 2014

What is the Common Core for Parents ?

Common Core Initiative 101:  (I will try my best to give you the information in parent friendly language and separate the ideas in smaller snippets.) Please look at the very bottom of my blog or check the grey tab on the right hand side to see what the standards are at each grade level.

     Prompted by the United States performance in International Tests, like the PISA, or perhaps because of the No Child Left Behind debacle. The United States set out to develop a set of standards that would help our students become college and career ready.

     At each grade level the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) focus on certain tasks to ensure that students gain well-rounded exposure to concepts. States have the freedom to choose whether they will use the standards as is, or add some additional standards as well. Some states have even chosen not to adopt the CCSS. 
     There are some major shifts when comparing the Common Core to the previous state standards (I will give you some of the more important ones.)

1. Students will have to read more Informational Text as opposed to Narrative Text (Stories). Currently, especially at the younger grades, students read mostly Fiction Stories. Now there will be a balance of both information and narrative reading

2. A growth in Text Complexity means that students will be exposed to texts that may be a little more difficult than they are used to. There has been a discrepancy between high school texts and college text.

3. Up until now, teachers have been asking many questions based on students' experience or how they relate to the stories. Now there is a focus on Text Dependent Questions. Students will have to go back to the text to give answers. This means that they will have to reread the text passages several times. They will learn to analyze the author's choices and determine word meaning based on context clues. 

      All states had standards before but the opportunity to have shared high standards in all states is new. Instead of having a lot of standards, there are fewer standards so that their depth of knowledge can be greater. The concepts are a little more rigorous and a focus on becoming independent readers of complex texts is expected. Many students are  not ready to read college level texts and cannot be successful in their career without this skill.

     The CCSS were created by teachers and other experts. They studied models that were effective across the U.S. and around the world. The goal is for our students to be competitive in the global economy as we are headed in that direction. U.S. students will now have to compete with students around the world for jobs.   

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