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Common Core Standards Explained

Many parents are frustrated and confused about what the Common Core State Standards are and what purpose they serve. Perhaps a more informative title for the Common Core Student Standards (C.C.S.S.) would be the Common Core ‘College, Career and Life Preparatory’ Student Standards, since the fundamental purpose of these standards is to prepare our children for College, today’s working world and essentially for life after High School, by employing clear and consistent educational standards across the United States.

Common Core Standards for equal education

Today I will focus on giving you a very broad outline on what the Common Core State Standards are and how their use improves the quality of our children’s education.

Map of US education segmented by state

Before Common Core Standards, Education Standards were Different for Each State

For many years, our country has experienced academic stagnation compared to the rest of the developed world. Each of our States had their own definition of academic proficiency. From State to State there was no agreement on what each student needed to know and understand at each grade level and upon graduation from High School.

The Common Core Student Standards are guidelines or goals for teachers to follow in Reading, English Language Arts/Literature, and Math. These standards are consistent and sequential and are the goals from which teachers create their unit and lesson objectives and plans. The C.C.S.S. are not Curriculum. States and school districts are required to provide textbooks and materials from which teachers are expected to develop lesson plans that adhere to the goals of each  Common Core Student Standard and meet the needs of all the students in their classrooms. These standards provide learning targets that each student is expected to achieve and execute their mastery of.  The role of each State and individual school district is to provide their educators with enough needed support so all students, including those with special needs and English as a Second Language, can achieve mastery of the Common Core Student Standards.

By providing Common Core Student Standards, teachers who employ Student Progress Monitoring, a method of evaluating the effectiveness of instruction, can develop clear-cut measurable goals/objectives in their classroom. Once their Common Core Student Standard based specific goal is established, teachers measure each week’s progress against their set goal to determine how well their students are doing. The results from the Student Progress Monitoring should be compared and decisions should then be made on whether to alter the method of instruction. Teachers will have definitive data to assess who needs more instruction and practice and whether the method of instruction is effective or should it be changed.

Later I will continue talking about C.C.S.S. and other ways they continue to improve our students’ education and prepare them for what lays ahead after High School.