It’s been four years since we’ve switched from Content Standards to the “new” math and English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core. Many parents of school-aged students who have made this transition to the Common Core thought that this curriculum would be easier to learn and understand while gaining critical thinking skills. However, a simple two-step subtraction calculation that use to take less than a minute now takes twice as long depending on the grade level. With Common Core, there are multiple steps in solving problems which involve writing word sentences, numbers sentences, creating graphs/charts, and arrays. With all these changes how can parents measure the progress of their children academically? What are some of the ways parents can evaluate how their children are learning?
Common Core Challenges for Parents
Many of the parents of our students experience frustration trying to help their child solve what seems to be a straightforward answer to a problem. Some students display bouts of anxiety and some become quite militant about arriving at the answer using the proper “Common Core” method. And now that many reading programs are computer generated, reading curriculum for many can feel highly passive, which is not conducive for students who struggle with reading comprehension. Lack of engagement can lead to highly active students losing focus and becoming distracted. These students require interaction with others such as thinking out loud, discussing ideas and getting feedback. For students who are borderline ADHD or who have been diagnosed with it, boredom can set in within a matter of seconds. Homework often morphs into a battle, the home; a battlefield.
These issues flag concern for parents. Are teachers giving parents a true picture of what’s going on in the classroom and are students achieving the common core goals set before them? First, parents need to be aware of their students learning style to communicate their child’s needs to the teacher and better adapt to the common core. One of the problems is that students learning styles do not often fit the common core mold. So, how are these goals being measured?
Our recommendations for evaluating progress
Currently, progress is being measured by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Score Card. These scores are shown along a vertical scale that increases across grade levels. They can be used to illustrate students’ current level of achievement and their growth over time. The difficulty for parents interpreting this scorecard is determining the range from one level to the next and the amount of progress being made. When conferencing with teachers always question what you don’t understand on the report card, in the classroom, and with homework. Ask for instructions/directions on how to do new material. Also, ask about your student’s participation level.
If your student has an IEP or 504 PLAN, make sure the teacher is aware of your student’s needs and is providing the proper accommodations based on those needs. Discuss the best way to communicate with the teacher, (i.e. text, email, phone) to make sure your student’s learning is seamless and on track. We can help your student develop strategies to approach the Common Core curriculum.