The Common Core State Standards are a national US program which outlines what students should know and the skills they must master for each grade in English/language arts and math. The CCSS also addresses standards related to reading in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects for Grades 6-12.
The CCSS was created to ensure the standardization of education across states and to ensure that graduates are ready for life in the workforce or to enter college or a trade school. Assessment of the student’s abilities is still up to the individual state and the CCSS is not yet aligned with English Language Proficiency standards.
The CCSS are based on research and benchmarked to what students need to learn in order to compete in a global job market. With the new curriculum comes new testing methods which are designed to more accurately assess student’s abilities and whether they have the skills they need for their careers or further studies.
While students and teachers adjust to the new standards and new testing methods, an initial drop in grades is expected. This is expected to be a short term drop as teachers and students adapt to the new standards.
The CCSS is only designed to create a student body that is better prepared for post-school studies and careers; it only covers the skills that students need and doesn’t dictate curriculum or the content of assessments. The teachers will select texts, assignments and tests.
In order for parents to effectively help their students to acquire the necessary skills, they must have a good understanding of the demands that the CCSS place on students at each grade. There are a number of resources available for that including:
- Parents’ Guide to Student Successa wonderful grade-by-grade guide for parents from the National PTA that outlines what students should know and the skills they must master at the end of each grade K-12
- Common Core State Standards Assessment and Accountability Guides, also from the National PTA and contains information on state standards including state-specific data on the assessment consortium, the testing timeline, sample test questions, impacts on students, new accountability systems and how parents can support their child’s learning at home
- Spotlight on the Common Core State Standards: What Do Parents Need to Know? This guide has basic information on the CCSS
- Sample Parent LettersInformation on mathematics topics for grades K-8, prepared by the AFT, on how parents can understand the CCSS and strategies on how they can help their students to excel
- National School Public Relations Association’s Common Core Communications Network, which includes a section on How Parents Can Help Their Kids
Being informed will help you to support your students through the transition and will also mean you understand which skills they must master to score well on the assessments. If you are unsure how to help your child, ask you teacher or in-home tutor for advice on how to effectively implement the CCSS.