Common Core: What Parents Should Know

school_sized

LIke it or not, the controversial educational standard called Common Core is a fact of life for parents of school-aged children in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and 4 U.S. territories. And yet an April poll by Gallup found that 37 percent of public school parents had never even heard of Common Core, reported Today, which also said 35 percent of parents view Common Core positively and 28 percent negatively.

Here’s what the program means for your children. 

Common Core is a set of shared academic standards for English and math only. The idea is for students to learn the same educational essentials, no matter where they live or what school they attend, and to prepare students to be more competitive with their international peers. While the federal government supports the Common Core standards, they did not create them. Educators tapped by the nation’s governors and other leaders wrote the standards.

Common Core is a set of educational goals and objectives, but their implementation in the classroom is left up to the teachers and to local educators. How these standards are taught is a decision that each individual teacher is allowed to make.

Parents have some homework to do themselves, in order to understand the standards for their child’s grade level. The Common Core website is the place to start. The National PTA has also created guides outlining the standards for each grade level. And The Council of the Great City Schools’ (www.cgcs.org/) parent roadmaps in English language arts/literacy provides some guidance for parents about what their kids will be learning and how they can support that learning in grades K-8.

The Common Core standards encourage depth in mastering topics, emphasizing a student’s ability to analyze and explain their answers, so math essentials look very different from the way parents learned them. Many adults grew up learning math concepts by rote memory. The new Common Core math – fractions, division, and other math basics — look completely different to those parents.

The standards require analysis and explanations so kids transitioning into a Common Core curriculum may have a difficult time being constantly asked how they reached their answers. Students often struggle because they can’t just repeat back what their teachers have told them. Simply getting the right answer is not enough in the Common Core system.

 

Photo: Getty