During the 2013-2014 school year, California public schools will implement the national common core education standards. A new testing system of common core curriculum begins in spring 2015.
So far, only 45 states have adopted the common core education standards. Texas, Alaska, Virginia, and Nebraska are the final holdouts. (Minnesota has only adopted the arts education standard, so far.)
What are the goals of Common Core?
Provide students with skills that are needed in today’s skilled work force whether students choose college or trade schools:
• Encouraging problem solving
• Facilitating collaboration and student-led work
• Emphasizing critical thinking and communication skill
How do these standards differ from California’s current standards?
Teachers will instruct students on a more in-depth level; emphasizing fewer of educational standard to master in a single academic year. The new system emphasizes improved problem solving skills and intra-student collaboration to complete assignments. The system will provide for better continuity from year-to-year in areas like language arts, mathematics, and science.
How will English and language arts instruction change?
Children will be expected to read and understand non-fiction and informational texts on subjects like science and history. Think of it as a college adjunct English class, where an English class is paired with for example, a social studies class. The focus of the English lesson will be to read, understand and write on topics covered in the social studies class.
How will math instruction change?
Students will learn fewer math concepts at each grade level. Rather than just writing in a correct answer, or filling in the appropriate bubble, students will need to explain how they arrived at their answers.
Also, students will do more problem solving and apply math concepts to real world situations. (Gone are the questions like “If you get on a train in San Francisco, how long will it take you to get to Los Angeles, assuming you stop every 100 miles for ten minutes and you are traveling at 60 mph?”
Who’s going to pay for this?
Governor Jerry Brown has set aside $1.25 billion one-time funding for districts to implement common core standards. The funding will go toward teacher training, new textbooks, and technology.
What about private schools?
Only public elementary and secondary are required to implement common core. However, private schools will alter their curriculums to emphasize “college and career readiness” of the common core initiative.
On paper, common core is a great idea; however, questions remain:
- Do schools have enough computers and tablets for all students?
- How well will teachers adapt and teach to new standards?
- What will happen to statewide-standardized (STAR) tests?
As they say, more shall be revealed.