Common Core and Homeschooling

Will the Common Core Affect Your Homeschool?

Complaints abound for the new “Common Core” curriculum and its standards. According to its website,

The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade.

But what does this really mean, and how will it affect your homeschool?

What They’re Telling Us

If you browse the Common Core website, you’ll notice they spout a bunch of positive drivel that makes the Common Core standards sound so exciting and great for the future leaders of tomorrow. These standards, again, according to the common core website, are:

  • Research- and evidence-based
  • Clear, understandable, and consistent
  • Aligned with college and career expectations
  • Based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  • Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
  • Informed by other top performing countries in order to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society

What this statement doesn’t specify is WHO did research, and where is the evidence? If these standards are “clear, understandable and consistent”, what was wrong with the previous set of standards? If these standards are aligned with college and career expectations, then why do the colleges now have to change their expectations and tests to reflect Common Core standards? How is this set of standards better at preparing our students for “success in our global economy and society”? These are only a few questions off the top of my head, but perhaps they will be addressed later in this article.

Here’s the video from the site to explain the purpose behind the whole thing:

Common Core Myths VS Facts

The website has a Common Core Myths VS Facts page that they use to dispel some of the more common thoughts about the new standards. This was a great idea on their part, but the biggest problem I see with this page is that the only “Myths” being contradicted are the negative ones. I mean that the page (IMHO) seems to be more of a persuasive article on why the Common Core is a great thing, rather than trying to provide accurate and factual information to parents.

To get answers to some popular questions from the other side of the debate, you can visit Stop Common Core – Myths and Facts. Remember that the actual truth is somewhere in the middle of these 2 sites; each side wants you to see their way of thinking! ALWAYS do you research to make sure you’re well informed. 🙂

So What Does This Mean for Schools?

The Common Core standards have been in the news a lot. Here are just a few recent articles:

You may also see posts on Facebook from frustrated parents, teachers or kids.

But what exactly does all of this mean for schools? Will the textbooks change? Will the lessons change? How about the subject matter? All over the country parents and students are experiencing frustration, confusion and anger as the new standards and curriculum are rolled out.

While each state has their own standards information on their state education site, the National PTA has a series of guides for parents that may help with the transition. These guides list what your child(ren) will be learning in each grade, tips for reinforcing those topics at home and how to improve your relationship with your child’s teacher (not sure how that’s relevant…)

The term “Common Core Curriculum” is misleading in itself. It’s actually not curriculum at all; it’s an updated set of standards that creates a need for new and updated curriculum. So the answer to the question “what does this mean for schools?” is that these new standards will make the schools order new curriculum so the teachers can teach the students these new goals. Where will the money to purchase this new curriculum come from? How will the teachers be trained in the implementation of the new standards? How will the transition affect students in the higher grades?

Schools are required to implement these new standards, at least in the 45 states that have adopted the Common Core Curriculum standards.

Problems People Have With Common Core Standards

I’ve seen multiple articles all over the Internet from people angered over assignments their children have brought home, as well as tons of similar posts all over the social media network. What are all of these parents upset about? The fact that the Common Core standards are actually complicating lessons instead of making them easier. It seems that math problems now have extra steps that don’t seem to make much sense; for a few examples, check out this list of the 10 dumbest problems with Common Core.

Common Core and Homeschooling

You may have seen things (like the image to the right) on Facebook where even a parent with an engineering degree is unable to determine the correct answer. While advocates of the Common Core state that this isn’t the fault of the new set of standards, but a faulty curriculum, parents aren’t convinced. More and more people are turning to homeschooling as the answer to the increasing level of problems in our public school system.

Common Core advocates say that it’s simply supposed to teach kids HOW an answer was determined in addition to what the answer is. Opponents say that it’s just meant to confuse children, and alienate them from their parents. After all, if your parent can’t help you with your simple homework, they must not be that smart, right? Then our children will stop listening to us as parents altogether.

We aren’t here to discuss that though. If we are homeschooling our children, how will the change in state educational standards affect us? Will we have to change our curriculum?

How Common Core Affects Homeschooling

The full details on how the Common Core Curriculum standards will affect your homeschooling depends on what state you live in. HSLDA has the low-down on individual states so you can check the current status of the standards in your state. Texas, for example, has no plan to implement the standards, and has actually passed a bill banning it from EVER being implemented.

Those who live in states that require homeschoolers to take state standardized testing will need to adjust their curriculum, just like the public schools. Some of the homeschooling curriculum has already been adjusted to meet the new standards.

Overall, if you live in a state that has adopted the new standards and that requires state testing, you will need to update your curriculum. The state mandated tests in these states will be updated to reflect the standards, so you’ll definitely want to make sure your child’s scores don’t suffer as a result. To get a preview of how well your child is understanding the Common Core standards, you can take a practice test through Smarter Balance.

If your child is in a charter school, you may be affected by their changes as well. Many charter schools are updating their curriculum to reflect the Common Core standards. Check with your individual charter school to see what changes, if any, will be put in place.

What if My State Is Not Implementing Common Core?

If you don’t live in a state that is implementing the Common Core standards, you don’t have to worry about it, right? WRONG. First of all, the SAT and ACT tests are being recreated to align with the new standards. So your child will at least need to be able to understand the material to take the tests. There may be a distinct disadvantage for those kids who live in a state that declined to implement the Common Core Standards. Fair? No, not really. But there it is.

If you use a new curriculum in your homeschool, most likely your curriculum has already been designed to encompass the new standards. For those of us who don’t use a curriculum, we may have a harder time teaching these standards so that our kids will do well on the standardized tests. We will see. What I recommend to those who don’t use a set curriculum is to take a practice test (make sure the test incorporates the new Common Core standards) so you can see which areas your child needs to improve in.

Overall, the Common Core Curriculum Standards don’t have to be a huge deal. I live in Texas, which has chosen not to use the new standards, stating that the TEKS standards are higher than the Common Core. My plan is to make sure my children have a rounded education, and can easily get great scores on the ACT/SAT tests. 🙂

How have they affected YOUR homeschool? Let me know in the comments below!