Common Core

Arizona will fully implement the new Common Core Standards for the 2013-2014 school year. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories have adopted these national standards.

What is Common Core? Common Core Standards (CCSS) are a universal set of standards for grades Pre-K through 12.  Instead of the current standards system where each state has its own, CCSS offers a singular consistent set of standards for children regardless of where they are educated. CCSS outlines the skills and knowledge American students must master to be prepared for the next grade level and for college. CCSS is not a curriculum.

What will students do? CCSS requires more research, evidence-based learning, and writing across the curriculum. Non-fiction reading is emphasized. Students begin with a 50/50 split between fiction and non-fiction, but progress to 30/70 split between fiction and non-fiction. Textual story problems replace traditional multiple-choice questions in mathematics, since business related skills are emphasized. Students are expected to articulate answers in writing and justify those answers with evidence.

Who designed Common Core?  Through the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, governors and state education commissioners across the country guided the development of CCSS with input from teachers, parents, and leading educational experts. Each state determined if it would adopt CCSS; all but 5 did. CCSS was crafted using the most effective models from countries around the world.

What are the Pros & Cons? Implementation of any new set of learning standards for our children can be controversial.

PROS

  • Internationally benchmarked, which means CCSS compare favorably to top performing countries
  • States can compare standardized test scores and combine resources in designing curriculum and development of tests.
  • Increase development of higher order thinking skills in students who will be asked to demonstrate multiple skills simultaneously rather than one at a time.

CONS

  • Transition will be difficult especially for students entering middle grades or higher; younger students will face more rigor at a quicker pace.
  • Special needs students have no test equivalency, requiring them to take the same tests as the general population.
  • Only language arts and math have CCSS; states must provide science and social studies standards on their own.

For more information on CCSS implementation in Arizona and what that means for you and your child, visit Arizona Department of Education’s Common Core website.

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