Posted on January 16, 2016 1:55 pm
Categories: Blog Education

What Should Parents Know About CommonCore?CommonCore Logo

Our kids are under intense academic pressure these days. The push to succeed scholastically is so strong. Colleges and companies are demanding more of our kids than ever before. I’m highly concerned about the CommonCore initiative and how it affects my children. I’m sure you are too, so I’d like to share what I’ve learned. Below are questions I had and the answers I’ve gleaned from research.

What is CommonCore?

The stated goal CommonCore is a set of national standards for math and English. It outlines what students in kindergarten through 12th grade should know in these subjects. The goal of the program is to equip students to succeed in college and careers.

Who drafted the standards?

The curricula were apparently designed by a cross-section of teachers and education related professionals across the nation. Educators wanted more rigorous academic requirements, to be on par with other countries. Overall educators seem to be split though in their opinions regarding the success of the initiative to date.  The program’s efforts are geared towards preparing high school grads for freshman college courses, job training, and entry-level careers. The standards attempt to hone the skills of analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

How does CommonCore differ from previous standards?

CommonCore standards are now at the same level as other high-performance countries. The US has lagged considerably in scholastic rankings over the past 20 years. The new criteria give teachers a way to measure student progress. Also, the program aims to inform students on precisely know what they need to learn.

How long has CommonCore been in use?

It’s been enacted by degrees over the past five years. The program was developed in 2009, and the standards were released in 2010. The majority of states adopted them shortly afterward. The federal government offered grant money to states that implemented the guidelines.

Is CommonCore mandated nationwide?

Adoption by states is voluntary. As of January 2016, it has been enacted in 42 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia.

Which states aren’t on board?

The following eight states haven’t fully adopted the standards: Alaska, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Minnesota adopted only the English standards. States that have joined are at different stages of implementation. You can see where your state stands in the process here.

Why are some states opposed?

  • Alaska – Instead of adopting CommonCore, the state has joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, believing its program is superior.
  • Indiana – Developing tests compatible with CommonCore would cost the state $25 million.
  • Nebraska – State officials believe no proof exists that CommonCore is the best way to teach.
  • Oklahoma – The legislature sees CommonCore as a federal method to reduce state control.
  • Texas – The governor estimates it would cost the state $3 million in training, textbooks, and testing.
  • South Carolina – Educators find the tests very difficult, setting the stage for failure.
  • Virginia – The Board of Education opposes the suggested textbooks, wanting to retain authority over educational materials.CommonCore States

How does CommonCore change the way math and English are taught and learned?

Students are asked to supply evidence for their answers to questions from textbooks, rather than parroting teachers’ lessons. It’s thought that by having kids dig deeper into material, they’ll develop valuable analytical skills for practical application in life.

What are the specific changes to the curricula?

  • English – Educational materials are more complex. There’s an emphasis on vocabulary.
  • Math – New topics build on previously-learned concepts. Students are challenged to apply what they’ve learned through problem-solving.

How does CommonCore affect exams?

According to a CBS New York report, the tests are more challenging (and some parents and parents groups argue confusing). This may result in lower scores and the need for summer school. To avoid this, it’s suggested we ask the help of teachers to keep our kids on track.

You can also access sample exams here.

CommonCore ProsCommonCore logo

1. Before CommonCore, states set their own standards. The argument was that there wasn’t a way to assess if students were acquiring the same knowledge nationwide. In some states, teens were graduating high school with a better academic advantage. Using common standards, our kids can be equally prepared to meet the demands of college and career.

2. If a family relocates to another state, upon entering a new school, the kids can seamlessly resume their studies.

3. Having students substantiate answers builds reasoning and problem-solving skills.

4. If grads make the grade, they’ll be qualified for employment anywhere in the world.

CommonCore Cons

1. Higher academic requirements exert more pressure on students, particularly those with learning disabilities or those students who may learn a little differently or require a little more attention.CommonCore Cons

2. Parents have legitimate concerns about summer school and if their child would be required to attend or be left behind because of the new standards.

3. The new standards cover only math and English. States still have to formulate their own curricula for other subjects. CommonCore doesn’t entirely resolve the problem of multiple yardsticks across the country.

You can read a comprehensive list of pros and cons here.

Changing Times

Either way, our shared goal is for our kids to obtain a quality education. There are differing opinions on how to get there.  Inspired by the scholastic upgrade of CommonCore, most states are on board and trying to improving their curricula, regardless of whether they accept the new standards. The overall goal is that our kids will be more competitive and academically above the rest of the world.



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