The New York Times touted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as being:
“clearly the most important education reform in the nation’s
history.” Intended as a measure to standardize the knowledge and
abilities students have by the time they graduate in order to better prepare
them for college, the CCSS has met with mixed reactions.
What are the Common Core State Standards?
Previously, each state was responsible for creating their own curriculum
and implementing education standards. As a result, the disparity between
the abilities of students from different states was huge; leaving some
students at a disadvantage because of the school system they had been
through. Data collected in the 1990s showed that as much as a third of
college students had to take remedial courses to catch up to their classmates.
Why Implement the CCSS?
The CCSS is meant to level the playing fields and set standards that all
participating states must adhere to. Decisions about the curriculum and
teaching methods are still left up to each state. The CCSS also differs
from previous standards in that it is focused on career-readiness and
is benchmarked with international standards so that American students
can compete with the leading academic nations.
How will the CCSS Affect You?
Any big shift in education standards is going to be tumultuous. As each
state struggles to create curricula and train teachers in the new teaching
methods, ensure that your child doesn’t get lost along the way.
The best way to ensure that your child is keeping up is to be involved.
Carefully monitor their progress and make sure that you have a good relationship
with their teacher so that you can catch problems early. If there are
gaps in your child’s knowledge or they are having difficulties transitioning
to the new methodologies, consider an in-home tutor who is familiar with CCSS.
The reason for this is that the way material is taught is fundamentally
different from the way you learned at school. Now the concepts behind
the functions are taught from the first grade. Traditionally, math and
language skills were taught by rote in the early grades with the underlying
concepts being taught later. This often led to students floundering on
the conceptual ideas in later grades.
Now the concepts behind mathematical functions and language skills are
taught first. Parents often find this confusing, as the answer to 7 +
3 can’t just be 10. The student must communicate the underlying
mathematical concepts rather than just the answer. They must explain why
7 + 3=10, not simply that it does. This has left many parents frustrated
at not being able to help more with homework, but it does help students
to grasp concepts and therefore excel at mathematics.
The shift in teaching methods is still in the implementation phase and
testing starts early this year to gauge the success of the program. “The
most important indicator of a student’s success is parental involvement,”
says Chris Lien from Tutor Doctor. “When parents support their child,
have a good relationship with the teacher and try to understand the new
CCSS, the child has a far greater chance of a seamless transition.”
Pic by Robert Couse-Baker