Schools, teachers and publishers in over 40 states are busy training and preparing for full implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards were presented in 2010 and are America’s first attempt to institute federal guidelines on grade level expectations. Before Common Core, some states had created their own sets of standards so that students could move within the state and be assured that they were going to be held accountable for the same academic standards. In other words, if your student lived in the city and was taught multiplication in third grade and you moved in the middle of the year to the country, she would still be taught multiplication and wouldn’t be at risk of being ahead or behind of her peers.
America is an increasingly mobile society and families are moving not just across the state but, across the country. On top of that, educators are hearing more complaints that they are graduating students who do not have the skills needed for 21st Century jobs. Today’s jobs often require workers to collaborate, create, communicate and think critically. It was out of these needs that the Common Core State Standards(CCSS) were born. In addition, the developers looked at the habits of mind and best practices that were being used in high performing countries like Finland and Singapore. They discovered that in general these countries studied fewer topics within a school year and their instruction tended to be very focused. In fact, Singapore’s website boasts “Teach Less, Learn More.”
Today, three years after the Common Core State Standards for Reading and Math were published, a recent Gallup Poll shows that more than 62% of Americans have never even heard of them despite the importance they hold, and so have no idea what will be required of their children. In very general terms, the standards call for more rigor, require students to use higher critical thinking skills, and ask them to apply their learning to real world situations. Employing the motto “Teach Less, Learn More,” the standards demand quality of instruction over quantity and as a result the number of math topics covered within a year has been decreased.
Educational book publishers are already incorporating the standards into their print product, and a few high quality iOS developers are doing the same. Because of these new rigors it is to parents and teachers advantage to seek out and purchase apps that are built to meet these new standards. Apps like Splash Math have been developed with the new standards in mind. Everything has been included with the intent of helping the student become successful in this new Common Core world. They give the rigorous practice called for and will not be out of date soon after purchase. Some apps, like Splash Math, go one step further and offer the parent, and/or the teacher, the option of receiving emails that report how the student is performing within the app. This helps the parent or teacher personalize the students’ instruction by tailoring additional activities to reinforce weaknesses the emails might highlight. These emails also open opportunities to praise students for their accomplishments thereby building their self-esteem.
Common Core is due to be fully implemented in American schools in the fall of 2014. Purchasing apps that are Common Core ready will ensure that your children will be one step ahead of the game and better prepared to conquer the 21st Century Skills employers are looking for.