As the new school year begins, preparation for the new Common-Core-aligned tests is a hot topic across the nation. Our local newspaper did a feature article about the tests and how teachers are preparing, complete with examples of test questions for different grade levels. What do parents think of all this?
In PR, we always start with research. I decided to take the pulse on our district Facebook page, posting the article and asking, “What questions do you have about the Common Core curriculum and the Smarter Balanced tests?”
Parents responded with some thoughtful concerns and questions. Here’s a sample:
- “I’ve forgotten all that high school math! How can I help my child?”
- “My worry about the Common Core is that it is too much, too soon. Our kids need to learn how to learn, how to think, and how to problem-solve before all the memorizing starts.”
- “What kind of 3rd grade math problem requires an hour to complete?”
- “There is a serious problem when officials predict that 2/3 of students will fail the first year. I sure hope our kids are prepared to pass these grueling tests.”
- “Where can I find the Common Core curriculum for my child’s grade level?”
People fear and speculate about what they don’t understand. To address misinformation and answer their questions, I built on our website a new Common Core FAQ on our website, and used social media to guide parents to it.
Next, I shared the FAQ with principals, helping them anticipate questions at Back-to-School night events.
As momentum builds toward the spring tests, I will continue to check in with our community to see what they are thinking about Common Core assessments. This two-way dialog will be an essential tool in preparing our community to understand what the tests entail, how our schools are preparing students to meet this new challenge, and what to expect from the first round of scores.