We had an excellent discussion on the Common Core standards at our forum. For those who are new to the subject, the Common Core standards were adopted by the Columbia Board of Education last year and work is well underway for implementing them. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should acquire as they move through each year so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. They also emphasize the thinking skills needed for our knowledge economy and for productive citizenship! Below are questions that parents asked at the forum with related information.
Question 1: What is (and isn’t) a part of the Common Core Standards?
- Common Core consists of a list of Math standards and Literacy standards (Reading, Writing, Speaking/Listening, Language) that are meant to be taught across all subject areas and grade levels K-12. They were written to be clear, consistent, and vertically-aligned so that students who master them will be prepared for 21st century success in either college or the workforce in a globalized economy. Common Core does not dictate the manner in which the skills should be taught nor the contexts in which the skills should be applied (i.e. what books need to be read, what vocabulary students should know, what historical/scientific concepts students should be exposed to), instead leaving these decisions to the professional judgment of classroom teachers.
Question 2: Are the Common Core Standards a federal mandate?
- No. They were written by educators, parents, and members of the business community as a result of state governors getting together and desiring national standards that would allow for more efficient collaboration across the country. Since then, 45 state boards of education have adopted the standards and are participating in one of two national groups (PARCC or Smarter Balanced) that are developing new assessments aligned to the Common Core. After their publication, Common Core standards were used for national education grant eligibility guidelines.
Question 3: How will state tests change due to Common Core?
- The MAP test will cease to exist starting 2014-2015 and be replaced with Smarter Balanced Assessments. The MAP test was almost exclusively multiple-choice questions. The new assessments will include considerable amounts of writing. The writing tasks will also require students to draw evidence from the texts they read within the writing tasks.
Question 4: How does Common Core compare to current standards?
- Common Core is much better organized, allowing for easier communication among teachers between grade levels, schools, etc. than ever before. They constantly force teachers/students to ask the question “How is what I am learning tied to the real world?”
Interested in learning more information? Click on the links below!