If you’re a homeschooling parent, or about to become one, you’ve probably heard of Common Core but may be unclear on what it involves and how it came to be. To help you understand, here are the basics of it.
How Did Common Core Start?
It used to be that every state had its own learning standards that specified what students in kindergarten through 12th grade should be able to do by the close of each year along the way leading to high school graduation. As you might imagine, this disparity across the country didn’t make it easy for students who moved to a different state and had to adjust to new requirements, and it created problems for college admissions as well.
In 2009, to standardize the proficiencies required in the very basic subjects of English and math, most of the states adopted what they called the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for those subjects.
What States Use Common Core?
As of this writing, most states in the US as well as the District of Columbia and four of the five US territories subscribe to the principles of CCSS. Not participating are Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Puerto Rico. Minnesota uses Common Core for English Language Arts only. Because states routinely review their educational standards and may choose to opt in or out of the standards to meet the needs of their students over time, you can check your state’s status here.
Who Designed Common Core?
Common Core State Standards were created by governors and commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia through their membership in the National Governors Association for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The aim was to ensure that all students, no matter where they lived, would have consistent, real-world learning goals and be prepared to graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and successful lives.
Starting with the best state standards already in existence, the CCSS were further developed by contributions from members of the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and National Council of Teachers of English as well as other organizations working together in teams from each state. The standards were further informed by educational methods from top-performing world countries in order to prepare students for the global economy and society.
Did Parents Have Anything To Say About It?
Yes. The final standards were shaped by two public comment periods during which nearly 10,000 comments were received from parents and the general public.
What Are The English Language Arts Standards?
These standards establish guidelines not only for English Language Arts but also for literacy in history and social studies, science, and technical subjects. They are based on the fact that students have to learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas in order to meet the challenges of college and career readiness in a variety of fields. You can read the complete English Language Arts standards here.
Overall, they stress critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills by reading stories, literature, and more complex texts through a method called Close Reading that requires students to determine purpose and language used by the author so they can be thoughtful and methodical about understanding the details in the text and why they were used.
What Are The Mathematics Standards?
These standards were designed to go beyond the broad general statements and rote, mechanical learning that were typically used in teaching K-12 math and to provide clarity and specificity with a clear set of math skills and concepts. In this way, students learn concepts in a more organized way during each school year and across grade levels. You can read the complete Mathematics standards here.
They are based on research showing how students’ mathematical knowledge, skill, and understanding develop over time, and they stress understanding of key concepts while continually returning to the organizing principles of the laws of arithmetic. These standards encourage students to solve real-world problems that they can relate to their own lives in the present and to the application of math in their future careers and in the understanding of the world around them.