This spring, parents heading into parent-teacher conferences may encounter information or workshops discussing the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Last year, New York joined 45 other states in adopting these standards. Although discussions about adopting national learning standards have circulated in education circles for decades, the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RttT) initiative, required states competing to receive this federal grant to adopt Common Core Standards. New York State received almost 700 million dollars in RttT funding.
The adoption of these standards will have a dramatic impact on what students learn in school and how they learn it. The introduction of the CCSS will also impact how teachers and principals are evaluated as well as how students are tested. The NYC Department of Education is requiring schools to make efforts to acquaint parents with these standards.
The Common Core State Standards provide a framework that sets benchmarks for what students should know and be able to do in each grade, from grades K-12. The new standards require students to engage in tasks that:
- emphasize critical thinking and analysis
- requires them to support their ideas and arguments with text-based evidence
- requires them to use technology effectively
- increases their exposure to complex, non-fiction text and
- increases their engagement with argumentative and informational writing.
The idea is that students who are able to meet these more rigorous standards will be college and career ready by the time they graduate from high school.
The timeline for implementing these changes will happen very quickly. This year all schools were expected to introduce all students to at least one CCSS aligned unit in literacy and one in math.
By the 2012-2013 school year it is expected that all ELA and Math instruction will be aligned to the common core. The ELA and math tests in grades 3-8 will be common core aligned by 2012-2013, while some of the high school Regents exams will be aligned to CCSS by 2013-2014 school year. The rest will be aligned by 2014-2015.
The National PTA has created a guide to help parents with understanding the common core and provide them with resources to help their children succeed at meeting these new standards.
Although the move to the CCSS may seem a bit intimidating for some, it is critical that parents become familiar with these standards. Familiarity with the standards will enable them to fully participate as an equal partner in their children’s education and hold schools accountable for ensuring that their children are properly prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.