The Common Core standards and PARCC assessment are coming! As Arizona and many other states transition away from their individual state standards and towards the Common Core, student learning is hoped to deepen. Common Core will bring:
- expected reading levels at each grade-level will increase
- more non-fiction reading and writing
- analytical writing with citations, in all content areas
- analytical reading with citations, in all content areas
- emphasis on math reasoning and steps
Blueprint Education is preparing for the Common Core, deeper learning, and student success on the PARCC assessment. Our preparation began by re-aligning our existing math and English courses to the Common Core standards. This alignment took the form of modifying existing courses, as well as writing new versions of courses. Currently, we are writing Common Core versions of Junior English, Senior English, and Geometry. This list may be expanded to include more courses over the next year or two. Common standards are good for students because:
- They help prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers.
- They help make transitions smoother for students moving to different states or districts because the learning goals remain consistent.
- Clearer standards help students understand what is expected of them and allow them to engage in more self-directed learning.
Common standards are good for parents because:
- They help parents understand exactly what students need to know and be able to do at each step in their education.
- They help facilitate conversation between parents and teachers about how to help their children reach those education goals.
- They assure parents that their children have access to the same high-quality education other students receive in other parts of the country.
Common standards are good for teachers because:
- They allow for more focused professional development and promote collaboration.
- They can inform the development of a curriculum that promotes deep understanding for all children.
- They can give educators more time to focus on depth of understanding and richer units of study rather than focusing on “fitting everything in.”
Curriculum Changes to Prepare for PARCC (updating from 2012 – 2014):
Science and Social Studies: supporting ELA with high expectations in writing, specifically following a “Claim, Evidence, Reasoning” format where students will support arguments and conclusions with data or text citationsEnglish (ELA): raising the reading level; better balancing literary text and non-fiction (supported in science and social studies courses)Math: incorporating assignments that require students to show and explain their math steps and logic; incorporating short-answer quiz questions that do not have multiple-choice optionsAll Courses: developing “Menu Assignments” to give students more choice, as well as more opportunities to tackle open-ended prompts using different strategies.