What is Common Core?
Common Core is a set of nationwide and state-specific standards and sub skills that every student is expected to master by the end of their high school career. A set of common core standards exists for each subject area and each grade level. As a New Yorker, this post will focus on the NYS common core.
How is it organized?
The standards build on each other from year to year, progressing to the twelfth grade. With each year, the sub skills grow more complex and ask students to develop and employ more and more critical thinking and analytical skills. These skills are ultimately the ones tested in state examinations like the Regents exams, and help indicate whether a student is performing at grade level or not. The ultimate goal of the common core standards are to ensure that students across the state are developing and mastering the same set of skills which will make them college and career ready upon completing their secondary education.
How does NYS use it?
Common Core standards exist for each subject area. As a public school English teacher, I can speak on ELA standards. In English Language Arts, these standards are categorized into five sections: Reading Literature, Reading Informational, Writing, Speaking and Listening and lastly, Language. In the elementary grades there is also something called foundational standards which address basic phonics and literacy development. Each one of these sections has a list of target standards which include sub skills for each grade level. These are the standards and skills that New York State public school teachers will design lessons and instructional activities around. These same standards are what New York State expects every students within each grade level to master by the end of the year.
Why is understanding common core important?
Whether or not you believe in the principles of the common core, the reality is that public schools and state examinations are using them. You can check what the standards are for your young learner’s grade level and subject areas online. Common core is supposed to be overhauled this year and replaced. Despite changes, the idea of state skills and standards will not go away so it is important that parents are aware of what the expectations are for each grade level. We have extracted and compiled some of the key ELA standards for literacy development for the following ages: 4, 5 and 6 year olds.