Common Questions from Parents about the Common Core

During Parent/Teacher conferences, I had the opportunity to speak to the parents of my fifth graders about their questions regarding the AZCCRS. I found that many parents and grandparents wanted my opinion as their child’s teacher.

What’s the difference between Common Core and Arizona College and Career Ready Standards? We tweaked 15% of the Common Core Standards to fit Arizona students’ needs.

Is this a federal take-over? Adoption of the standards was left to individual states, and Arizona teachers helped write the standards. As a mobile society, a set of national standards is important. Previous state standards didn’t align well, causing students who moved frequently to miss out on sections of their education. Basketball standards would say, the court is the same width, the hoop is the same height, and the players play by the same rules. A common set of standards is one of the hallmarks of top performing countries around the world. The standards help all students get the skills and knowledge they need, regardless of whether or not they move around.

Do you teach the standards? I teach students. Standards give guidelines on what students should be able to do, but not how to get them there.  We’ve had standards in Arizona for more than 20 years. Curriculum is the tool we use to teach. Curriculum choices are made by locally elected school boards and their communities.  I tailor my teaching to the needs and interests of the individual learners in front of me each year.

What about what I’ve seen on social media sites? Those that I’ve seen were based on emotion, not facts, and were related to a specific problem on a worksheet, textbook or homework. This issue is with curriculum, not standards. The best way to research the standards is to read them.

If learning the three R’s was good enough for me, isn’t it good enough for my (grand)child? We still learn the three R’s, but the world has changed and education must change with it. With our global economy, students must be citizens of the world, not only their local community. Employers and colleges tell us that graduating students must be able to comprehend large amounts of information and complex text. Our standards are more rigorous than past standards and demand critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills that our students will need for their future success.

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