What's in store for your middle and high school students
The implementation of the Common Core State Standards is going to take time. It’s a process thing. It’s not something that will happen everywhere at once, and understanding its successes—or challenges—won’t be immediate either. After all, curriculum that pursues the new standards needs to be developed, assessment strategies planned and designed, and teachers and administrators (above all else) need to be comfortable with any new content and how it will affect their classrooms.
Parents are part of this, too, however. Involvement in the school life of your children means more than a twice-yearly parent-teacher conference. It means understanding what’s being taught, when it’s being taught, and why it’s being taught. So for parents with kids in middle school and high school math classrooms, it’s important to know what the Common Core State Standards will expect of your teenagers. (You can see what’s expected of the kids in K-5 classrooms here.)
Middle school is an incredibly important turning point for your children—from a social and emotional development standpoint to their preparation for high school learning and their college and career paths. With their K-5 base, students in grades 6 and 7 should enter math and pre-algebra classes with a strong foundation for using and understanding the subject. According to the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers—creators of the Standards—hands on learning in subjects like geometry and a few others will prepare them for algebra in the 8th grade and beyond.
All of that is part of a larger preparatory effort for the kinds of math learning that is expected in high school, where the standards “call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges.” This practice will help prepare students to think and reason using the skills and lessons inherent in the subject, but across a range of disciplines in anticipationg of life after high school. As the creators of the Standards put it:
The high school standards set a rigorous definition of college and career readiness, by helping students develop a depth of understanding and ability to apply mathematics to novel situations, as college students and employees regularly do.
The high school standards emphasize mathematical modeling, the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, understand them better, and improve decisions… Modeling links classroom mathematics and statistics to everyday life, work, and decision-making. It is the process of choosing and using appropriate mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, to understand them better, and to improve decisions.