Standards Newsletter

By: Courtney Boykin

Common Core State Standards

As we progress through out the year I have noticed that my classroom parents are having a hard time understanding what Common Core State Standards are, why they were created, the purpose of them, and how they will help close the academic gap are children are currently exhibiting. According to corestandards.org "Today’s students are preparing to enter a world in which colleges and businesses are demanding more than ever before. To ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade."


Common Core State Standards were designed to help prepare students for college and their future career, businesses and colleges noticed that as students were coming to them they were not exhibiting basic 21st Century skills and as they communicated with educators the issue became more apparent that the current state standards were not rigorous enough for students to be successful. The Common Core State Standards have the potential to be a great asset to the United States educational system if we become more excepting of them.

Standards Vs. Curriculum

When thinking about standards and curriculum it is difficult to know the difference between the two, so in order for the Common Core State Standards to make sense it is vital to know the difference between standards and curriculum.


Standards


  • Standards are considered to be expectations that students are held accountable to know and teachers are held accountable to teach.
  • Students are expected to know certain things in each grade level, for example students are expected to know how to read a book and tell what the authors purpose of the story was. As they gather their thoughts on what the authors purpose is for writing the story it is important that students are able to explain their reasoning behind their answer.
  • Standards are made in order to ensure that students are learning specific skills when they are conceptually ready for them.
  • Standards are not flexible and do not change, they are designed to serve as an expectation which is used to determine whether students are making growth in a specific subject (math, reading, writing, social studies, and science).



Curriculum


  • Curriculum is a collection of materials that are meant to help a teacher enhance a lesson such as textbooks, activities, projects based learning, assessments, lessons, and thematic units.
  • Curriculum is a plan that is formed for teachers to use to pace themselves as they teach their lessons throughout the year.
  • Curriculum has the flexibility to be changed from year to year and even from classroom to classroom based on the needs of the students.
  • A curriculum team will get together(teachers, administrators, academic coaches) and develop a curriculum that covers all mandated standards to ensure that students will successfully master the grade level standards.

Standards Drive Deeper Learning & Critical Thinking

As a vital component of the Common Core State Standards it is important to develop an understanding of how it helps students develop critical thinking skills and drive a deeper sense of learning. Common Core State Standards has woven in it a set of competencies that promotes deeper learning for students which provides an educational experience for students that gives them a chance to have a successful educational journey.


Six Deeper Learning Competencies:

1. Master Core Academic Content- Students develop and draw from a baseline understanding of knowledge in an academic discipline and are able to transfer knowledge to other situations.

2. Think Critically and Solve Complex Problems- Students apply tools and techniques gleaned from core subjects to formulate and solve problems. These tools include data analysis, statistical reasoning, and scientific inquiry as well as creative problem solving, nonlinear thinking and persistence.

3. Work Collaboratively- Students cooperate to identify and create solutions to academic, social, vocational and personal challenges.

4. Communicate Effectively- Students clearly organize their data, findings and thoughts in both written and oral communication.

5. Learn How To Learn- Students monitor and direct their own learning.

6. Develop Academic Mindsets- Students develop positive attitudes and beliefs about themselves as learners that increase their academic perseverance and prompt them to engage in productive academic behaviors. Students are committed to seeing work through to completion, meeting their goals and doing quality work, and thus search for solutions to overcome obstacles.


Common Core State Standards work as a tool for teachers to know where students should enter a grade level and where they should leave a grade level, students will have opportunities throughout the Common Core State Standards to be exposed to critical thinking and develop critical thinking skills that will help them be successful. According to neaToday there are six ways that Common Core is good for students, neaToday is a website that provides articles about educational policies and teaching tools.


6 Ways Common Core Helps

1. Common Core Puts Creativity Back in the Classroom

2. Common Core Gives Students a Deep Dive

3. Common Core Ratchets up Rigor

4. Common Core is Collaborative

5. Common Core Advances Equity

6. Common Core Gets Kids College Ready

How Can I Improve Critical Thinking at Home?

Be Clear- Encourage children to ask questions when they do not understand something as well as promote an environment where children feel comfortable asking for examples if they do not understand what is being asked of them.

Be Accurate- When children are offering answers to questions ask children to prove their thinking by researching their information and finding proof.

Be Relevant- When children are discussing a topic with you make sure to encourage them to relate this topic to other topics that are relevant to the discussion, be sure to make sure children stay on topic.

Be Logical- Support students ability to see how things in their world fit together, don't be afraid to questions them about their conversations to help them see how logical answers are formed.

Be Fair- Ensure that as your child is developing deeper thinking skills they are also practicing showing compassion, children should be able to think of others around them as they draw conclusion about topics.

Expected Challenges With Implementation Of Common Core

As we begin to implement Common Core State Standards it is important that we acknowledge the challenges that could arise from the implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures the following are challenges they predict will happen.


Challenges:


  • Federal involvement- Opponents point to at least three federal activates posing challenges to state authority over education policy: (1) The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) included adoption and implementation of "common standards" as a weighted criterion in awarding states Race to the Top Phase I grants. (2) The Department required statewide adoption of "college- and career-ready standards" as a condition precedent before granting a state a waiver from No Child Left Behind. (3) The Department has provided $350 million to aid in the development of the assessment systems aligned to the Standards.
  • Unknown policy consequences- Implementation of the Standards may have unforeseen or unintended policy consequences. For example, a student beginning the 12th grade in 2014-2015, the target date for full implementation, may be a year behind in the new mathematics standards because his or her 11th grade mathematics courses were not yet aligned to the Standards. Many students may find themselves in similar situations.
  • Cost- States stand to endure a net loss of time, money and effort in their adoption of the Standards. States and districts stand to incur costs associated with aligning instructional materials, curricula and teacher professional development with the Standards.
  • Standards alone will not improve student achievement- Standards must be accompanied by rigorous curricula and formative tests that provide teachers with useful information about each student’s growth toward meeting the Standards.

References

Deeper learning. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.hewlett.org/sites/default/files/Deeper%20Learning%20for%20Every%20Student%20EVery%20Day_GETTING%20SMART_1.2014.pdf


ExcelinEd. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.excelined.org/common-core-toolkit/old-standards-v-common-core-a-side-by-side-comparison-of-english-language-arts-2/


National Conference of State Legislatures. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/common-core-state-standards-promises-vs-challenges.aspx


neaToday. (2013). Retrieved from http://neatoday.org/2013/05/10/six-ways-the-common-core-is-good-for-students-2/


Roots of Action. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.rootsofaction.com/critical-thinking-ways-to-improve-your-childs-mind-this-summer


Tienken, C. C., & Orlich, D. d. (2013). Translating the common core state standards. AASA Journal Of Scholarship & Practice, 10(1), 3-7.