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Common Core Confusion: A Guide to Understanding Your Child's Schoolwork

If you have a school-aged child currently learning under the Common Core Standards, you might have noticed that the curriculum your child is learning is vastly different from what you remember from your own school days. Does your third grader's homework seem impossible to you? Does your second grader mention terms you've never heard before? As Common Core takes hold, many parents have been left in the dark about what these Standards are, why they were created, and what it means for their child's education.

Defining Common Core
The set of Common Core Standards, first adopted by some states in 2010, is an education initiative sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that details clear, consistent educational expectations for students in the United States to achieve in each grade (K-12) in the areas of English language arts and mathematics. The Standards emphasize mastering fewer subjects, rather than a basic understanding of several topics; and analyzing and applying information rather than simply recalling it. Teachers, researchers, and design experts across the country collaborated to design and develop these Standards, and each state decides independently whether or not to adopt them.

The goal of the Standards is to help students across all states compete with other students on a national and global scale, and ultimately prepare all graduating high school students for a 2- or 4-year college program, or the workforce. Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska are the only states that have not yet voluntarily adopted any of the Common Core Standards, while Minnesota has only adopted the English language arts standards, so for most U.S. children, this is the new reality in school. View this map to see when each state adopted, or will adopt the standards.

In an effort to bring parents up to speed, most schools distribute a "Parents' Guide" at the start of the school year when they're implementing the Common Core to help explain new terminology and concepts that apply to children's homework.



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