The PTA releases guides for parents navigating the standards and their achievement goals
All but a handful of states around the country have adopted the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. Part of the reason for that is the standards represent a grassroots effort to set consistent benchmarks for what every student in America should learn during their K-12 years and in preparation for college and career. (See our previous coverage here.) Though the Common Core Standards were written for an audience of educators, not parents, their focus on future readiness means caregivers should also understand the new expectations and how Common Core lesson plans will influence teaching and learning.
Thankfully, the national PTA has stepped in and published parent-friendly primers on the Common Core Standards. With the organization’s Parents’ Guide to Student Success, there’s one short guide for every grade. Each guide explains in clear detail what you should expect your child to learn in their ELA and math classrooms. The overall goals for each grade level are summarized along with examples of specific skills students should work to achieve. The guides also put the Common Core Standards in context, while offering tips for talking to your child’s teacher as well as at-home activities to reinforce school lessons.
For example, parents of 7th grade students are reminded to keep conversations focused:
When you talk to the teacher, do not worry about covering everything. Instead, keep the conversation focused on the most important topics. In 7th grade, these include:
- Reading closely and citing several sources of evidence from grade-level fiction and nonfiction works to support an analysis of what the material says;
- Developing a rich vocabulary of complex and sophisticated words and using them to speak and write more precisely and coherently.
Ask to see a sample of your child’s work. Ask the teacher questions such as: Is this piece of work satisfactory? How could it be better? Is my child on track? How can I help my child improve or excel in this area? If my child needs extra support or wants to learn more about a subject, are there resources to help his or her learning outside the classroom?
Remember, the Common Core Standards are not a curriculum. They’re not a set of lesson plans or textbooks. Instead, they simply outline the knowledge and skills students need to master during their K-12 years and in preparation for college and career. School districts, administrators, and teachers will pursue varying strategies to help students learn these skills. With the PTA’s new guides, parents have a resource for understanding the goals of the Common Core Standards and helping their children achieve them.