CCSS: Sending Clear Messages to Kids and Parents

As a full-time education consultant, Allison Zmuda works with educators to grow ideas on how to make learning for students challenging, possible and worthy of the attempt. Over the past fifteen years, Zmuda has shared curricular, assessment, and instructional ideas, shown illustrative examples, and offered practical strategies of how to get started.

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Common Core State StandardsThe State of California has translated the complexity of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into terms that kids and parents can more readily understand, Kindergarten through 5th grade.

For example, the first grade goals for number sense:

  • I can count, read, and write numbers to 100
  • I can compare numbers using <, >, and =.
  • I can write a number sentence.
  • I understand how addition and subtraction are related.
  • I can add and subtract numbers up to 20 using drawings or blocks for help.
  • I can count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s.
  • I can tell if a number is odd or even.
  • I can show 1 more, 1 less, 10 more, and 10 less.

See the full set of K-5 standards in ELA and Mathematics

These straightforward explanations are helpful, but three immediate questions come to mind.

Questions

  1. Why stop after grade 5? Every student and family deserve clarity on what they are expected to do in language that is accessible to them (there is a Spanish version as well).
  2. Why only ELA and Math? It is viable to do this in every subject area.
  3. How do kid-friendly targets provide larger purpose to learning? If, for example, I can count, read, and write numbers to 100, what does that give me the power to do? If I can write a number sentence, what does that give me the power to do? It’s not enough to drill down to develop short-term targets. Students need to see the forest and the trees; they need to know that if I engage and become more proficient at this particular skill, it will make me more capable at …. (e.g. solving real-world problems, comparing numbers to make predictions and/or find patterns). In other words, kid-friendly standards at this level should line up the larger aims of the subject area program and the school.

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