(April 17) Parents struggle with Common Core methods

By Miles Layton  Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:30 am | Updated: 8:54 pm, Thu Apr 17, 2014.

Some parents are struggling to help their frustrated children cope with Common Core homework problems.

Like any good mother, Michelle Higbee of Perryopolis helps her 10-year-old daughter, Erin, with her homework after school. She said her daughter, a fourth-grade student at Perry Elementary School in the Frazier School District, is frustrated by some of the questions she has to answer after reading a short story because the test seeks subjective answers that are open to interpretation rather than objective answers — facts.

Higbee said she wonders if fourth-grade students are ready to make such moral judgments.

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The Common Core State Standards are a set of uniform academic standards developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards.

The mathematics and English language arts standards outline a minimum set of skills and knowledge for students at each grade level. Local school districts will retain control over developing their own curricula, which involves the lessons and methods teachers use so that students reach those standards.

The standards aim to raise academic rigor across the nation, based on input from the business and higher education communities that too many students graduate from high school in need of remediation.

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Randy Miller is director of curriculum and instruction in the Laurel Highlands School District. Well-versed on Common Core, Miller said parents should review the Pennsylvania core standards located on the state Department of Education (PDE) website or by going to the public standards aligned system (SAS) site to gain a better understanding of the standards at www.pdesas.org.

“As educators, we are working toward that alignment and preparing students for assessments that the students will take in all levels of education, but, more importantly, preparing them to be successful in their future,” he said.

Miller said students always have been asked to draw conclusion about passages they read. He said, in the new standards, there is an even bigger focus for students to appreciate multiple perspectives and cultures.

“Our job in public education is to prepare students for wherever their future takes them,” Miller said. “We would rather students be over prepared than under prepared.”

Full story: Parents struggle with Common Core methods Miles Layton, Herald-Standard, 4/17/14 

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