Yesterday I went out to coffee with my best friend. After we caught up with each other, we began talking about her son’s public school education. As the parent of a kindergardener, she has 1 year under her belt.
She said, “He has to learn all this Common Core crud!” (But she didn’t say crud.) She continued, “This math makes no sense. I’m teaching him plain old math like we learned it. It’s not what he’s learning at school but if I don’t tell him, he won’t learn it. And this phonics! So stupid! He’s not being pushed. Who came up with these stupid standards?!”
I chuckled with her and commiserated a bit. I mentioned casually the standards were developed by national experts and actually are deeper and more difficult than our state standards.
As I reflect on our conversation, I feel I missed an opportunity to clarify the CCSS. My friend is an intelligent business woman with a PhD. If she can’t figure this out, we’re failing to communicate with families.
What are some quality resources I might share with a parent? I found a few:
- The PTA’s Parents’ Guides to Student Success was developed by teachers, parents and education experts in response to the Common Core State Standards. It has some nice guides in various lengths. I like the 2 page document because it is concise and ends with questions a parent can ask their child’s teacher.
- Engage NY has a document available in various languages. Engage NY also has a clearinghouse-style list of other resource for families.
- Achieve the Core has an excellent selection of downloadable documents and videos (!!) to communicate the standards to families.
- I find NPR’s CCSS FAQ helpful and easy to read. They update it frequently to include up to date information.
- OSPI has resources that tell families what the CCSS will look like in Washington. It includes videos and Washington-focused information.
- The official CCSS website includes a section for parents. This site outlines the major shifts, answers FAQs, and has a video that appears on other sites.
Here’s my elevator speech for the next time:
- To ensure all students are ready for success after high school (for college or career), the Common Core State Standards establish clear guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English Language Arts from kindergarten through 12th grade.
- National experts in English Language Arts and Math developed the standards. There was input from teachers, experts, and community members.
- The new standards also provide a way for teachers to measure student progress throughout the school year and ensure that students are on the pathway to success in their academic careers.
- By the 2014–15 school year, Washington will have new, more focused math and English language arts standards. The new standards will help students better understand and solve real-world problems, getting them ready for college and career opportunities.