All of our materials are created to directly assist teachers and students in meeting the Language Arts Common Core Standards. When you view any topic page, you will see our Apple with the related Common Core Language Arts Standard that the topic is aligned to.
Please note that there are a number of standards that are to be met kinesthetically or verbally. As a result, you will not see worksheets available for these standards.
For all the debating over the Common Core State Standards Initiative, there is gap between the rhetoric and facts. The fires get fanned, fears grow and what Common Core is, how it developed and its goals are getting lost in the smoke.
Common Core isn't a mandate dictated by the federal government. It evolved through years of study and assessment by the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers. Unlike other nations, the United States has a diversified education system. States are in control of their education systems, policies and funding. The Common Core is their product.
Participation in is voluntary. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and 4 U.S. Territories have opted in. Some have opted out. Others will join in the future. There is no directive from above.
The Common Core is driven by two main issues:
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) released its 2012 results in 2013, showing that in the United States has actually slipped in the academic rankings since 2009. Our children dropped from 24th place to 30th in math; from 19th in science to 24th in 2012 and we dropped from 10th in reading to 20th. PISA compiles its data from the top 65 developed nations in the world. The U.S. failed to break into the top 20 in any field.
Students who have successfully completed their high school course work still need remedial education, particularly in English language skills and math. They have a diploma and lack the academic skills required to go forward in either college or the working world. Even "Ivy League" schools are hosting remedial courses.
Second: to meet the needs of both paths by ending the variance in what American children are taught, and when in different states. Common Core creates a standard of expectation in American education. The failure to teach basics (in math for example) in the 4th grade has been passed-on and addition and subtraction; multiplication and division is still a main element in many 8th grade math classes. This doesn't exist in the countries that out perform us in the PISA study. Common Core requires that algebra and geometry begin in the 8th grade and a complement of materials is provided for grades K-7 to assure that it happens.
Common Core presents a different view of education. It is focused on more expansive comprehension instead of test taking. Over the last decades, passing standardized tests has been the measure of success and even school funding has been tied to it. That sort of thinking produced the drop in our academic ranking in the world. There will be testing under Common Core. It's is a measure of knowledge and achievement. Learning to take the tests is not the goal.
Common Core provides for a wider scope of knowledge built on greater understanding. The curriculum is designed to be mutually supportive and provide an expansive building-block approach to education. The standards were developed in a cooperative effort by teachers from across the country assessing Best Practices and improved methodologies.
The development of English Language Skills (ELS) is a main focus of Common Core, and it includes more than reading and writing at grade level. Common Core materials include reading in what used to be called the "humanities." The goal is to achieve greater reading comprehension while expanding the educational experience of American children. Students are being exposed to mythology and history, the cultures of other societies and our own. We are providing a richer understanding of our world and who we are.
Common Core's math standards present a more dynamic and dramatic change in the way that we approach teaching. It is true that the new standards require that the basics be taught in the primary school years, but this isn't about memorizing times tables and endless repetition. In our world, everyone has a calculator. The goal is to teach students how numbers work. It's not just "the what;" it's the "why." One of our objectives is to teach students to use math, logic and reasoning for critical thinking and decision making; something that is absent from today's methods.
Our current methods of teaching math cover broad ranges of information with no depth. While some students catch-on instantly, many endure the repetitions and often pointless examples until they simply become numb to the math experience. Common Core offers fuller explanations of how numbers work with relevant examples in text and graphics. It's a progressive thing allowing students to move on to the next level year after year throughout grade school and that is the standard being applied throughout all of the participating schools.
Common Core isn't meant to prepare every student for a career in science, technology engineering and math (the STEM professions). Those students will continue on with higher level courses. It will improve the baseline of knowledge for American children and prepare them to enter life in the 21st Century.
The math standards were built on the finding of the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) among others that looked at performance in other countries. Benchmarks are established year to year with increased attention to the 4th and 8th Grades. Other countries are succeeding. Saying that we can't isn't going to work anymore.
There is only one question here: Will the United States provide a 21st Century education to American children so they can thrive in a 21st Century world. In large part, it is a world that we made. Common Core may not be the ultimate answer to every issue surrounding education, but the obligation to prepare our children to enter higher education institutions, or employment without remedial work is indeed ours.
Just about every American, no matter where or when we were born, grows up being taught that we are the greatest society in the history of the world. It sounds good and we're all pleased to hear it. Perhaps it will be true when our children read, write and understand math.