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December 18, 2012

What parents should know about the Common Core



By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

Last Spring, I became intimately familiar with the new math and English standards – at least for Kindergarten through 5th grade. Not just because I’m a nerd, which I am, but because GreatSchools was publishing free worksheets for teachers and parents to use, and our COO casually suggested I peg each worksheet to the new standards. Piece of cake! (Famous last words.)

Now, as teachers across the country are getting a taste of the Common Core cake and students will soon be tucking into their daily dose, everyone (including us) is trying to figure out what parents need to learn about the educational standards that may transform their children’s learning. U.S. News & World Report jumped into the fray with a quick-n-dirty little blog highlighting four things parents should know about the standards.  

Four things to know about Common Core Standards

Click through for the write-ups, but here are the four things from the U.S. News blog (with my commentary):

1)      They are consistent from state to state. If your family needs to move from one of the 45 states that have adopted the standards (aka not contrarian Texas, Alaska, Vermont, Virginia, Nebraska, and Minnesota), theoretically your child will enter a class working on the same math skills. Now, that’s often not the case since states follow such different standards.

2)      They dictate what your kids learn, not how the skills are taught. If you think Singapore math is the best thing since sliced bread, you can still look for a school using that system. The standards only say that your second grader must learn to fluently add and subtract up to 20 using mental strategies. But teachers may teach that skill in any way they choose.

3)      They go deeper. “The Common Core gets away from instruction that is a mile wide and an inch deep, and instead drills into skills students need to succeed in college and the workforce,” writes U.S. News blogger Kelsey Sheehy. Honestly, I’ve read this selling point a lot and I’m repeating it here as part of the blog list, but I don’t buy it hook, line, and sinker. Whether instruction “goes deep” is probably far more dependent on the skills and predilections of the teachers – not the standards.  It’s great that the standards attempt to remediate drive-by curriculum by outlining that teachers need to, say, get kids to think critically, but let’s face it, educational depth varies from classroom to classroom and the standards may or may not improve how deep a teacher goes.  

4)      They are rigorous. “Students will take algebra in middle school and precalculus in high school under the new standards,” writes Sheehy. (Pre-calc being the new minimum requirement; presumably good high schools will continue to let kids learn through AP Calc II and beyond.) In many cases the standards introduce more rigor, but not in all cases – such as Massachusetts, which some have argued has higher standards than the Common Core already.  

A few surprising examples from the new Common Core Standards

It’s a nice overview. But as a parent, other than giving you license to move, did it help you understand what’s going to happen in your second grader’s class? That’s what we’ve been struggling with. We aim to help parents get the best possible education for their children. So here are just a few things that surprised me as I poured over the standards last spring:

  • Kindergartners will do a lot of academic things we were never required to do: count to 100 by ones and tens, they’ll also count syllables in spoken words, and be asked to identify the author and illustrator of the books they read.
  • Starting in first grade, kids will be expected to develop digital and technical skills that were never a part of our elementary school education: using “a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing.”
  • And beginning in second grade, elementary schoolers will not just write a lot, but be expected to do things I never learned until 6th grade, such as revise and edit their writing.

In the ramp up to Common Core there are going to be a lot of people attempting to translate this technical bullet-point-crazy document into parent-friendly information. Sheehy’s blog seems like a pretty good start, but for someone who has spent way too many hours poring over the details of these standards, I wonder how relevant these general ideas about standards are to parents. Did her points address your concerns about the Common Core Standards?  Do you have other more pressing questions?  Do you even care?

As we work on the best way to help parents navigate the new standards (the good, the bad, and the ugly), I’d love to know what you find helpful, informative, and excessive. 


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As a parent I was unaware of the term "Common Core" however, this is good to know. I agree that this is a little different from when I was in school but, I believe it will help if everyone do their part(teachers & parents). In my opinion, this is being done due to the US falling behind as the nation leading the way for education.

Teaching online is a great experience and people who are using an online teaching platforms like WizIQ are teaching beyond any geographical boundaries. These online teaching platform enables student to get register in the class of any teacher of their choice. Teacher can also teach them in a interactive manner using audio-video communication, sharing any file, text chat with students, whiteboards tools to draw anything, creating any courseware, conducting online tests and many more applications.

It is a nice article. As a parent it is our duty that we learn financial saving to our children. It help them to understand what is going to happen in their near future ? That is what we have been struggling still.

I will be surprised to learn if K-8 graders are truly geared for Pre=Calculus and Algebra -- I wasnt and struggled with the New Math of the 1960s until my early 30's when I finally met my calculus requirement for math at the 4 year level. However, I excelled in the sciences throughout 1 through 12th grades. Granted some kids excel in certain areas at a young age and that is great. The problem is that Common Core is a trap - sure its rigor is increased so what happens when mom and dad cant help with homework? then the special Commie Party Tutors are assigned to help not only with math and science but that science will be revisionist science (including BS Global Warming which is a lie.) History will underline Communist achievements over true American and World history and in the area of civics and political science is where these scum Common Core (they are communist rotten to their very core) want to entrap both the student and the parent so that your kids minds will be mailable to influence them to buy into Progressivism which yes folks IS BAD
- We must return to Reading and Writing and Arithmetic and ramp up the course rigor as the student excels and with his class level. That is why we have class levels in America - Not to force our children to submit to the one world ideology that is mixed in with everything - DO not by into this Common Core crap!
This must be opposed and rejected just like Obscumbo himself!

If the common core agenda is not stopped, the parents will never be able to correct it in the future and you will lose any say you think you will have on your child's education. The teachers and principles have no idea what common core will lead to until it is too late. Common core is a progressive communist grab to brainwash your children and the parents will have no say in their child's education.

Open your eyes, why was there no discussion on this yet pushed thru in the stimulus package as a requirement to the states ed system if they accepted any stimulus money. Teachers and parents, please wake up before this can not be reversed...

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