BY ANN CARROLL I won’t lie. Before this month, I’d been so caught up in my life and my daughter’s first year at school that I didn’t know much about Common Core. I admit this sheepishly—but I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone! The articles Women Advance has run this month on the new education standards in North Carolina and 44 other states have been a godsend to me as a parent.
While Common Core adds plenty to the “to do” lists of educators, I began to wonder what I could do to support my daughter and her teachers. The National PTA released a very helpful guide for parents at every grade level. Their recommendations include:
- Have a conversation with your child’s teacher. The list of topics dictated by Common Core can seem overwhelming. It’s important to narrow-down that list so that your child knows where to focus.
- Create a quiet place at home for your child to study—and take five minutes each week to sit down with your child and understand what she’s studying.
- Understand the new goals for proficiency at your child’s grade level. Common Core aims to provide students with a more applicable knowledge base for the real world. School’s priorities are very different now than when you or I were in school.
Nowadays, kindergartners need to be able to read and understand a story designed for early readers and be able to spell words out as they sound. Parents can also help sixth graders—and students at all levels— look for math “word problems” in real life. Try figuring out the average speed of a family trip or the surface area of your living room walls to determine the cost of painting a room.
I encourage you to check out the guide and put it on the top of your pile of “things to read.” The information is valuable and very easy to absorb.
Common Core has brought about a few other changes in education. Some school systems—particularly at the elementary level– have changed their report cards. While not mandated by Common Core, changes in report cards are happening as schools try to find ways in which to interpret Common Core.
In recent weeks, you likely also received a report card for your school based on test results from the 2012-2013 school year. This is also not related to Common Core. It’s instead a systematic change at the state level, measuring academic growth rates and the percentage of students who scored proficient on state assessments.
That’s a lot of changes in education, and it can be difficult as a working parent to keep track. But sticking together—and sharing what I’ve learned through articles like these—sure makes parent-teacher conferences a bit easier.