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Easing the Transition to Common Core in WA Schools

PHOTO: This is the first year Common Core standards for math and English are being taught in Washington classrooms. Schools are reaching out to parents and community groups, asking them to find out more about the standards so they can help ease students' transitions. Photo courtesy School's Out Washington.
PHOTO: This is the first year Common Core standards for math and English are being taught in Washington classrooms. Schools are reaching out to parents and community groups, asking them to find out more about the standards so they can help ease students' transitions. Photo courtesy School's Out Washington.
September 15, 2014

SPOKANE, Wash. – More than a million children in Washington are back in school, and students, teachers and parents are all adjusting to the new Common Core learning standards for English and math.

Many districts and communities are working to ease the transition.

In the Spokane area, consultant Joanne Benham is organizing a series of Common Core meetings for parents through the group School's Out Washington program.

Benham says local colleges had noticed many freshmen needed remedial classes before they could even start college-level courses, and one of the Common Core aims is to change that.

"The Common Core standards do raise the bar, but it means that once the kids get to their continuing education, whatever it is – two-year, four-year, technical school – they're going to be ready for that,” she stresses. “They're not going to have to go back and do high school work that they should have already done."

People who oppose the new standards have called them one size fits all education, but Benham says Common Core is an outline of what students need to learn at each grade level, and schools and teachers have the flexibility to decide how to teach it.

She adds after-school programs will be building on the same standards.

Benham says parents also are being encouraged to do some of their own homework. She explains there are resources online that explain Common Core, from how and why the standards were developed to what adults can do to help children navigate the changes.

"Kids who are struggling in school need all the support that they can get,” she states. “And it's not just the parents' job, it's not just the educators' job. It's everybody's responsibility to help kids where they can. So, we all kind of need to jump into this Common Core."

This year, Spokane also added another half-hour to its school day for the elementary grades.

The Common Core informational meetings in the Spokane area will be held from mid-October to November.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA