For several years, the Clinton Public School District has implemented the Common Core State Standards in elementary and middle school grades.
The standards are academic benchmarks of what students are expected to learn at each grade level. Local educators in Clinton choose the curriculum materials that are used for day-to-day instruction, including textbooks, homework assignments, projects, apps and other materials.
“We’re raising the bar on what we expect of students,” said Assistant Superintendent Tim Martin. “Students will no longer be given information to memorize and recite back to teachers for a grade. They will be required to engage with complex informational texts and apply literacy skills across all disciplines.”
In math, students will face challenging problems that connect mathematical understanding and procedural skill. They will be required to know how to explain their answer and the mathematical reasoning behind it.
Martin said it will not be an easy transition, but CPSD encourages parents to become actively engaged in their children’s learning.
“These new demands will raise the bar on what is expected from teachers as well,” he said. “Literacy will no longer fall solely under the purview of English and language arts teachers. We expect teachers of other courses to connect the Common Core standards with their content.”
This means that student assignments must be content rich and literacy saturated.
One common misconception of Common Core is that established literature is being stripped from English courses to make way for non-fiction texts. In fact, Common Core requires certain critical content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s founding documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.
It is also not true that English teachers are required to spend 70 percent of their time teaching informational texts and only 30 percent of their time on fictional or literature text.
The 70 percent that is often misrepresented refers to the amount of total time students will spend on reading throughout the day in math, science, English, social studies and other content courses. English teachers are encouraged to use more short informational texts, such as primary sources that can be found online and in newspapers, to surround their reading of a novel, but not to switch their reading to primarily informational text. With Common Core, students will need to read literary texts in English in order to have the 30 percent of their day be fiction reading.
In math, teachers must not only assess students’ ability to do a math procedure but also recognize their depth of understanding and respond with appropriate instruction.
“In some instances, parents may not know how to help because the styles being taught are different from the way we learned as children,” Martin said. “But the best way to learn something new is to prepare to teach it to someone else. If parents and students will both commit to teaching one another — with guidance and support from teachers — I believe we will be successful in implementing the new standards.”
Martin encouraged parents to communicate with teachers on a regular basis, and do not hesitate to ask their child’s teachers if they need assistance or don’t understand an assignment.
Teacher contact information is available on www.clintonpublicschools.com. To find your child’s teachers:
• Mouse over the “Schools” link
• Click on the school name
• Click “Classrooms” on the school home page
• Teachers are listed in alphabetical order by last name
• Click a teacher’s name. His/her email address is posted on either the “Home” or “Welcome” page.
If you cannot find a teacher’s contact information, please email Webmaster Sandi Beason at email@example.com or call your child’s school.
“We have already seen success in our kindergarten through third-grade students who began to learn these standards several years ago,” Martin said. “Now it is time for grades 4-12 to join them in raising their expectations.”