Check in with your child’s teacher about Common Core

Now that students have settled into the new school year, it’s a good time for families to review several changes related to California’s new Common Core academic standards that should be part of students’ learning. 

Back in spring 2015, all public school students in California were tested to the level of the state’s newly implemented academic standards in K-12 English and math. For the 2015-16 school year, teachers will build on that experience to better prepare their students to meet the standards. This year, students could experience new types of projects, new textbooks and even new academic expectations. 

How can a parent or guardian prepare to support students through these changes? The best way is to communicate with teachers. 

Here are a few suggested questions to ask teachers about changes in the classroom related to the state standards: 

1. What should I expect my child to learn by the end of this school year?
Each year of learning between Kindergarten and 12th grade has a set of standards that all students are expected to meet. Talk with your student’s teacher about the grade-appropriate expectations. You may find a few hints in these grade-specific factsheets (pdf)

2. How can I support my child’s learning at home?
The academic standards are aimed at helping students make the connection between their classroom education and real life. It is important that parents help support students’ education at home. Teachers could suggest projects or games for families to take on to enhance learning outside of school. 

3. How will I be updated on my child’s progress throughout the year?
How does your teacher communicate with you? If you have questions, talk with the teacher about what to expect from them, how to interpret the communication and when it’s appropriate to check in. Keep the lines of communication open to make sure you understand what’s happening in your child’s classroom. 

4. Will my child be doing project-based learning this year?
The new academic standards call for students to go deeper on a few topics in each year of school. For many classrooms, that means more lessons are completed in groups, or projects use technology to help students work together. Find out what sorts of resources and group time you will be expected to provide to your child. 

5. What is the school doing to prepare for the annual SBAC tests?
All California schools administered the annual Smarter Balanced assessments in spring 2015. Find out what worked for your school, what teachers learned from the process and how they’re planning to improve on the experience this year. 

Have more questions? You can refer to SVCF’s Communications Toolkit for Common Core.