The National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers have just released the “Common Core Standards”, a set of state-led education standards for teaching English language and mathematics subjects for government-run K-12 schools.
The standards promise to, “…establish clear and consistent goals for learning that will prepare America’s children for success in college and work. ” States will individually implement the standards on their own, receiving federal education funding as an incentive to do so. You can read the full report here.
Homeschoolers, particularly those in moderately to highly regulated states, have been preparing for the release of the standards by watching how this might affect them. Legal groups, including the HSLDA, have been closely monitoring the situation as well, ready to stand firmly against any actions that could potentially take away the curriculum freedoms that homeschoolers enjoy today.
Homeschoolers for the most part have always been able to pick and choose what to teach. This total control of curriculum is what consistently produces such high-achieving students and above-the-norm academic results for homeschoolers in study after study. Dictating what must be taught in English and math could reduce homeschoolers’ performance to the mediocre level of their public-schooled counterparts, negating the benefits and outcomes of homeschooling altogether.
If and how the standards affect homeschoolers remains to be seen, but the optimism and applause from supporters who could potentially influence homeschooling is already tremendous:
“With the states’ release today of a set of clear and consistent academic standards, our nation is one step closer to supporting effective teaching in every classroom, charting a path to college and careers for all students, and developing the tools to help all children stay motivated and engaged in their own education. The more states that adopt these college and career based standards, the closer we will be to sharing innovation across state borders and becoming more competitive as a country.”
– Bill Gates, Co-Chair, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Common Core Standards could presage a breakthrough in the dreary record of 8th-grade reading scores over the past 40 years. Based on sound principles from cognitive science, the new language-arts standards place a unique emphasis from the earliest grades on science, history, and the arts, so that students will gradually build the general knowledge they need to read and to comprehend. The standards state that they can only be properly implemented both within a grade and in moving from one grade to the next through a coherent, cumulative progression of knowledge — not just a collection of readings. (An excellent illustration of such a progression is the example on “the human body.”) Also very welcome, in this final version is the emphasis on civic knowledge and on the seminal texts of the nation. These standards mark, then, a real advance on even the best of existing state language-arts standards. If they are indeed accompanied by a coherent curriculum that ensures students accumulate needed knowledge starting in earliest grades, they will form a platform on which we can finally address the literacy crisis in this country.
Homeschooling families should continue to follow the standards and monitor the actions of their state education departments in the upcoming several years. For information and links about this initiative, including responses from HSLDA and others, read the first article in this series by CLICKING HERE.
Remain informed by signing up for a free subscription to the US Homeschooling Examiner’s pages by clicking on the SUBSCRIBE button, above.
© Copyright 2010
You are invited to forward this entire article to friends and groups you think may benefit from its contents. Requests to copy portions of this article should be made via email to the United States Homeschooling Examiner.
[Image from Inmagine stock photography]