Thursday, January 29, 2015

Common Core

Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA, a civilian agency of the United States Department of Defense that manages all schools for military children), have adopted the Common Core State Standards. This includes New Mexico - the standards were adopted in 2010 by the New Mexico Public Education Department, with full implementation expected during the current school year.

What are the Common Core standards?  Well, we don't pretend to be experts, but here's what we've read:
The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.
The standards are:
  1. Research and evidence based
  2. Clear, understandable, and consistent
  3. Aligned with college and career expectations
  4. Based on rigorous content and the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  5. Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
  6. Informed by other top-performing countries to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society
The standards focus on core concepts and procedures starting in the early grades, which gives teachers the time needed to teach them and gives students the time needed to master them.

For grades K-8, grade-by-grade standards exist in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. For grades 9-12, the standards are grouped into grade bands of 9-10 grade standards and 11-12 grade standards.*
The Common Core seeks "that more classroom time and attention be devoted to helping the student to become a well-rounded learner who understands what teachers are asking them to do, can solve the problem and explain how they did it, not just memorize and repeat the answer,"** with an emphasis on the student's listening carefully, being diligent and disciplined, and using creativity. Classroom and state assessments will be similar to what they are now, but the kinds of questions and the forms of student's answers will change, involving much more use of computers and technology, less multiple choice, and class projects may be considered in the assessment. Each state has its own website which provides information about how the standards are being implemented, assessments, supports for teachers, and help for students.

The information provided about the standards can be dense, but there are resources for parents available on both the standards initiative site and the state website.  There are also resources available for checkout from the library catalog: Common Core language arts and math materials and Common Core materials for teachers.


Common Core State Standards Initiative*

New Mexico Common Core State Standards**

Common Core Video FAQ

Everything You Need To Know About the Common Core - Diane Ravitch [Washington Post]

What will sink and what will survive as states test the Common Core? [PBS]

No Common Opinion on the Common Core [Education Next]

Common Core Reading: 'The New Colossus' [NPR, part 1 in a 4-part series]

Common Core, in 9 Year Old Eyes [New York Times]

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