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Parents Largely Unaware of Common Core

Despite being one of the most high-profile education reform initiatives in decades, a recent study shows that K-12 parents are largely unaware of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

common coreThe standards, designed to prepare students to be college and career-ready, are set to be implemented a year from now in almost all states and classrooms in the U.S. A cross-section of parents who participated in a total of eight recent focus groups stated almost universally that they knew nothing about them.

“These focus report results are a real wake-up call for all of us concerned about education and parental involvement,” said Kelli Wells, Director, U.S. Education, GE Foundation, which conducted the focus groups. “During our strategy sessions, teachers and business leaders shared their concerns that communicating about these changes to parents is critical.”

Only three parents in the groups had heard anything about the changes; all were surprised they didn’t know more about the Common Core. However, when informed about these higher standards for K–12 students in English Language Arts and mathematics, these public school parents had a positive initial reaction to them.

The focus groups were conducted in February and March 2012 in Chicago; Tampa, FL; Oakland, CA; and Stamford, CT. They were led by the Center for Strategic Research and Communication with support from the GE Foundation.

All respondents had a lot of questions about how school districts will be able to implement the initiative. Their concerns ranged from budget constraints and impact on struggling students to teacher readiness. Parents whose children will be close to graduation in 2014 were particularly concerned about the impact CCSS implementation might have on their children’s academic careers.

The focus group parents responded positively when the following CCSS goals were discussed:

  • CCSS aims to bring U.S. education on par with nations that lead in math and language instruction.
  • The initiative promises consistent learning goals for all students, regardless of where they live.
  • CCSS is not a federal government initiative. 
  • The CCSS are designed to prepare students for success in college and career.

In addition, schools may find helpful the National PTA's handy two-page and four-page printable guides for parents (one guide per K-8 grade level, plus a high-school guide). Each guide discusses Common Core language arts and math expectations for a particular grade level and explains to parents:

  • Key items that children should be learning in language arts and math;
  • Activities that they can use to support their child's learning; and
  • Methods for helping strengthen the teacher-parent relationship.

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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