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A Parent's Introduction to the Common Core State Standards in Education

Milford schools will be utilizing a new educational standards within the next year or so. The standards were derived to improve educational achievement but won't come without some start-up angst.

It is likely many of you have heard the words Common Core in recent conversations......on the school bleachers, at a PTA meetings, or in a local coffee shops.  It is also likely that you don’t know very much about what this means or how the standards will impact your child’s classes, curriculum, or instruction.

This article will give you a quick introduction to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and provide you some resource links for further information.

The CCSS were adopted nationally by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers and adopted in July 2010 by the Connecticut State Board of Education.  Forty-seven States in the US have similarly adopted the CCSS.

The rationale for CCSS was multifaceted, including 1) to prepare US students for college, 2) to prepare the next generation of workers, and 3) to remain competitive with other countries where similar standards have led to academic excellence.

The good news is that much of the CCSS was already contained in Connecticut’s State educational standards.  The not-so-good news is, however, that there will still be disruptions to the status quo in both curriculum and assessments.

It is important to remember that CCSS creates grade-level skill requirements, not specific curriculum.  For instance, it does not mean every 2nd grade classroom in America will be on the same page of the same textbook on the same day. Each school district will be free to select its own curriculum/textbooks and teachers will have the latitude and creativity to instruct in their own ways, as long as the key grade-level building blocks are met.

CCSS standards fall into two broad categories; English Language Arts and Mathematics. In general, CCSS teach less skills per year, but each skill is taught to a deeper, conceptual level.  This ensures material can be cumulative from year to year and that re-teaching of skills is kept to a minimum. For instance, using Math as an example,  Integer manipulation is taught to a mastery level early on as it is a prerequisite to Fractions and Fractions are taught to mastery as a key building block to a successful understanding of Algebra.

In Connecticut, integration of CCSS is very much a work in progress.  During the 2012-2013 school year, in many school districts, the implementation of CCSS has begun for selected grades. In addition, preparation for the new CCSS-based assessments is also beginning.  Next school year, the curriculum should be fully in place. The mandate is to have CCSS fully adopted into Connecticut schools for the 2014-2015 school year.  Fully adopted means that the new, year-end assessments will be based on the CCSS standards.  These new assessments will replace the CMT and CAPT assessments currently being used.

For more information on the CCSS in Connecticut, you should visit;

CCSS in Connecticut
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2618&q=322592

CCSS English Language Art Standards
http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy

CCSS Mathematics Standards
http://www.corestandards.org/Math

Frequently Asked Questions about CCSS
http://www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Priscilla Lynn December 28, 2012 at 01:11 AM
There is so very much important information to know nowadays as a proactive parent when it comes to educating one's child/children's. Good to see that Mark Ahrens has taken the time to provide important details in this blog.
john mofitt December 28, 2012 at 02:27 AM
It sounds like school districts will have leeway to establish their own programs to attain specific goals and achieve specified requirements. I'm not a believer in testing per se, but clearly standards must be reachable and measurable. It sounds like CCSS accomplishes that. Thanks Mark
Mark Ahrens December 28, 2012 at 01:45 PM
The CCSS standards have the potential to improve the overall delivery of education and still gives each school district leeway as to "how" to accomplish their objective. Of course, the devil is in the details, but there's reason for optimism.
Mark Ahrens January 03, 2013 at 09:32 PM
The linked article shows how New Haven has chosen Singapore Math curriculum for its Common Core Math solution. Very informative! http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/singapore_math/

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