No doubt you have heard the uproar surrounding the Common Core State Standards, or CCSS. We’ve discussed previously the realities of the “newest thing” in education and its negative impact upon our school systems and nation. Though a majority of states have not fully integrated the standards into classrooms and standardized testing, the preliminary results are in, and they are dismal.
To give you an idea of just how bad it is, New York, currently ranked 3rd in the nation for education, saw a decrease of 31% in both math and language arts proficiency. Furthermore the CCSS, whose goal was to equalize education and opportunity, has actually widened the gap in NY between white and minority students by over 10%. Simply put, the CCSS is a new educational lab experiment with no evidence of success and our nation’s children are the guinea pigs.
How Will the CCSS Impact Me?
It’s only natural to be concerned about homeschooling rights in the face of a major education change that leaves much of the power for education in the hands of the government with little parental involvement. This is why it is so key for homeschooling parents to know their rights and fight to maintain the freedom to home educate your children. Find out your specific state laws and freedoms here.
As it stands, the CCSS is not mandated for homeschooling families. However, many publishers of secular curricula have aligned their textbooks to the CCSS. When making curriculum decisions, ask the hard questions about CCSS. Most publishers are advertising alignment to the new standards, making it easier for homeschool families to distinguish.
Perhaps what is most alarming for homeschoolers is the fact that state standardized tests and college entrance exams, like the ACT and SAT, will soon be aligned to the CCSS. Though we do not have a confirmed date for the alignment and each state is creating standardized tests independently, it is a reality that homeschooling families must be prepared to face. This means, even though your child may not have been exposed to Common Core curriculum while homeschooling, they will need to understand and be proficient in the areas the standards address in order to do well on required tests and college entrance exams.
What can you do?
So, what can you do, as a homeschool parent, to encourage CCSS readiness if you choose to not use curriculum aligned to the new standards? First, understanding the Language Arts and Math standards for high school grades is important. This will ensure that your students are proficient in those areas. Knowing the LA and Math standards by grade level can help you to identify which skills your child has mastered and those you need to focus on to prepare for any testing. Each state has different requirements regarding standardized tests. It is critical that homeschooling families be aware of these requirements and the standards in order to be fully prepared.
Second, the CCSS is highly focused on critical thinking and analytical skills. Your child should be able to use deductive reasoning, compare and contrast, analyze and synthesize information, and evaluate outcomes across each discipline. A great way to ensure your child has the critical thinking skills necessary to do well would be to choose curriculum that integrates higher order thinking skills in each lesson or to supplement with daily critical thinking exercises.
Third, know your rights and exercise them! Despite how pervasive the CCSS may seem, we still have the right to petition and participate in the legislative process. Congress is gearing up to discuss and debate the CCSS so now is the time to be vocal and make our concerns known. If you are unhappy with the new CCSS, exercise your right to freedom of speech and due process! You can locate and contact your Congressmen on this website.