Common Core: Should I Be Worried?

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“Will my children’s school change because of the Common Core?  Will all the “good things” you show in the blog be gone once the Common Core comes to Vermont?   I have read so much about it.  I am scared!”

This email arrived last week. It posed the question so many parents are asking right now. The short answer is, “No, the Common Core will not get rid of the good things happening in our schools.” What you see on the FWSU Blog is the result of the Common Core and the work teachers have done to increase learning opportunities in our schools.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a set of academic standards – nothing more and nothing less. It sets forth a progression of learning targets by grade level. It can be a tool for parents.  If a parent can  understand what their child needs to know and be able to do at each grade level (the Common Core), together we can monitor academic growth. Children learn differently, so not all students will meet every grade level target at the same time, but the CCSS provides a guide and benchmarks. Because the Common Core Standards are national standards, parents know that their children in FWSU are receiving similar learning opportunities as children across the country.

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The Common Core State Standards were developed for students living in a digital age, and they are designed so that students will be “career and college ready” in a modern world. There is no “Boogie Man” hiding between the lines to invoke fear – they were prepared to guide us. Vermont Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe, calls them “aspirational”- they are designed to encourage us to set our sights high. High performance means different things in today’s world, and our academic standards have changed as the world changes.

photo 1 (1)The great news? In Vermont, our districts decide how the go about increasing the rigor in our schools. In FWSU, our Action Plan defines our priority to develop Personalized Learning, and the Common Core helps us to benchmark excellence within that framework. The State of Vermont has not dictated texts, set non-negotiable curriculum, or punished teachers based on student scores. Much of the argument we hear in the media against the CCSS is based on the approaches different states have taken with the Common Core Standards.

In FWSU, we have sought to expose students to a global world, to connect them with authentic sources of material, to engage them in real-world projects as part of their academic learning. We provide them with more texts and greater experiences because we have access to digital tools. We provide opportunities for them to be leaders in their world. But still they laugh, play, have fun and contribute to their community with their friends.  photo 1 (24)

The Common Core is here! Do you wonder what changes the Common Core is calling for? Check here for a summary of the major shifts in reading and writing instruction.   Do you hear about “Common Core Math”? Check here for a simple explanation of the shifts teachers are making in math curriculum and instruction.

We have a ways to go to meet our goals of developing Personalized Learning in each of our classrooms. The blog helps us document that process. Stick with us and watch us grow!

Meet the Common Core: Learn the Facts About New State Standards

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Have you met the Common Core?

Common Core State Standards, also known as CCCS, is designed to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.” (citation: http://www.corestandards.org/). Vermont formally adopted the CCSS in August 2010 and is set for full implementation in the current 2013/2014 school year.

Two Girls (10-12) Looking at a Rack of Test Tubes

Rather than focusing on the individual standards themselves, we urge you to envision a student at the end of their schooling:

What does a 12th grader look like when he/she is “College and Career Ready?”  Click here.

As a parent, are you curious about learning goals at your child’s grade level under the Common Core? Click here to find a two-page Parents’ Guide that has been produced by the National PTA.

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Franklin West embraced the Common Core by developing the FWSU Action Plan to help our teachers and community to envision new ways to approach teaching and learning. Our blog offers a glimpse into this important work. Our teachers are now working hard to develop and align our curriculum and instruction with the Common Core. Students are beginning to hear language about being “Career and College Ready.” 

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Have more questions? Learn more about Common Core, by reading FAQ’s.