Homeschool parents should be aware of “Common Core State Standards” (CCSS). Recently, 45 states began implementing common core state standards requirements for public schools for Math and English. These states will have a separate or additional assessment test for these common core standards for grades 3–11 by the 2014–15 school year. It appears the first test will be a field test administered in the spring of the 2013-14 school year. Some think future testing frequency will be administered one or more times during 3rd-8th grade and once at 11th grade.
Some feel issues related to common core standards are nothing new. For-profit achievement test publishers have been driving a national standards-based structure for decades. Many of these test publishers are also text book publishers. These for-profit tests form what teachers, schools, and curricula publishers include in education so students can get better test results. In the past, a few states have broke from the for-profit testing publishers, and created their own assessment or achievement testing to be able to emphasize their own state standards. These new common core state standards are similar to the states that wanted more control over standards. The difference is that multiple states collaborated to develop these larger geographic standards. They were not set by the federal government.
The new common core state standards will affect online charter school programs being used in most states. This could affect homeschoolers in the few states that require homeschoolers to take periodic state assessement tests. Even if a state allows homeschool exemption from this new common core assessment test, it will affect homeschoolers that might later enroll in a public or charter school. This will likely affect changes in other standardized and achievement tests in the future that could eventually affect homeschoolers.
If your state is implementing these standards, it might be beneficial to compare your homeschool curriculum or program scope and sequence. Parents should be aware of what their child is learning anyway. Most Biblical-based homeschool curricula publishers are not officially aligning themselves with common core state standards. However, Biblical-based curricula publishers will review and compare most available state standards throughout the nation for scope and sequence. Comparisons can help a publisher or program ensure excellence. Reviewing others standards does not mean publishers or programs neccessarily support them. You can compare them to your curriculum’s scope and sequence yourself or check with your curriculum publisher or check with your homeschool program. The common core standards scope and sequence can be found on these pages: Mathematics English Language Arts
A practice test has been created at SmarterBalanced.org for the public. It is stated the practice test is limited in range of content and not to be used to make educational decisions. It appears the eventual test will use an adaptive structure, similar to many diagnostic tests. A correct answer will trigger a more difficult answer. An incorrect answer will trigger an easier question. The stated goal will be a shorter test than previous tests. Also, it is to be designed to evaluate learning growth for special needs and English learners.
There are several reasons why there are many supporters of this initiative. It was developed by individual state educators collaborating with other states. It does not include more controversial subjects such as sciences and social studies. It is not part of No Child Left Behind. It is led by the National Governors Association (currently 26 Rep and 19 Dem governors in states participating) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (normally the top education position in each state that is elected or appointed by the governor). It is not led by the national Department of Education. Other stated benefits: Common Core State Standards FAQ or CoreStandards.org
A primary concern has been around for quite a while. Many people are opposed to a standards-based education. Even though a standards-based education can protect academic efficiency when students relocate to a different school, some do not like the idea of having others dictate what their children should learn. Some do not like the pressure that tests put on their children. Some do not think the performance of a single test day should carry so much weight. Some do not like the potential for more narrowed learning.
Many people are cautious about the Common Core State Standards initiative. As of September 2013, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Virginia, and Alaska are not participating.
Here is a sampling of concerns from media across the nation: It will end up being more federal control of education, instead of local. There will be too much corporate influence. It will hurt gifted and special needs students. It will curtail individualized or self-paced curricula that focuses on the students’ ability. Many feel it will encourage more “teach to test” pressure than already exists. Some feel more time will be spent on math and language arts, which will decrease a broader education. There is a concern of a national database developing for student information that invades privacy. The common core standards include controversial “investigative math” concepts. Some worry the standards will eventually include science and social studies. Some think the state government motivation for the initiative is federal funds rather than seeing a need for it.