Forty-five states have now agreed to adopt a common set of standards for what students should learn in reading and math. For the first time, these states are committing to teach every child what they need to know to be ready for college and the workforce when they graduate high school.
In the past, what it took to graduate high school didn’t match up with what colleges and employers were expecting. In addition to past standards setting the bar too low, they were also too scattered and lacked focus. Not surprisingly, when students were asked to learn far too many topics in a year, they often missed out on the important stuff. As a result, America’s progress in teaching kids to read has stagnated, and SAT scores have even declined over the past 40 years.
These new standards for what kids need to learn, referred to as the Common Core State Standards, are focused on the core skills students need to master to be ready for life and learning after high school. They are also aligned with the skill level students will be expected to demonstrate when they enter college and professional training. Ultimately, this means all students will graduate high school prepared for college.
HOW THIS MATTERS TO YOUR KID
As a parent, what difference will these new standards make for your child? Here are the key things that will change about how your child learns reading and math.
The single greatest predictor of college success is reading something complex and understanding it – this is at the heart of the new standards for reading. The key changes your child will see at school are:
- Students will spend a lot more time learning information from reading. Under the new standards, approximately 50% of student time will be focused on informational reading.
- Discussions and student writing will be expected to use evidence from what they’ve read. This is what colleges and employers expect of high school graduates – to be able to read something complicated, understand it, and use it in their school work or career.
- Students will read more complicated text. High school students are typically reading text 4 grade levels below what they’ll be expected to read in college.
You’ve probably heard by now that students around the globe are surpassing US kids in math and reading. Other countries actually ask kids to learn fewer topics in math, and learn them really well. Singapore’s mantra is “teach less, learn more.”
- Focus: students will now focus on a limited number of topics, and go deep on them. For example, in K-2, kids will focus on addition, subtraction, and understanding whole numbers. These are the things they need to understand to prepare them for the next step.
- Coherence: Because students will be learning math topics deeply, there won’t be a lot of repetition year-after-year. Once 3rd graders master multiplication, their 4th grade teachers can help them learn how to use their multiplication skills to do division.
- Rigor: Because students won’t be repeating the same topics year after year, they’ve got to get really good at each year’s topic before moving on.
For more specific information about what your child should be learning at each grade level, check out these easy-to-understand parent guides from the PTA.