Back to High School: A New Teacher in Town

tough_teacher_MediumA new, tough teacher is in town and no amount of back to school shopping trends will prepare you for this first day of school.  Students and parents alike should take note that across the nation teaching standards are rising K-12 with the intention of preparing students for college and raising test scores.

Rather than memorizing basic math functions such as the times tables, flipping back and forth through flash cards and learning to regurgitate answers, students will be encouraged to find a deeper understanding as to why mathematics functions work.

The class will be encouraged to give a book report in a new fashion.  Students may be used to reporting a simple summary that these days can be researched on the Internet and bypassed as amazing work for students who may not have even grasped the entire concept of the book or even read it at all.  Now, students will be required to give more than a summary.  For example, students will be required to discuss, in depth, what motivated the author to write the book or create a particular scene or character.

These standards are known as the Common Core standards.  The Common Core standards have been adopted by 45 states.  As a result, students will need to understand material more deeply and work out problems on their own with the purpose of being able to compete in the global market and be prepared for college or a job once he or she graduates from high school.

Across the nation, testing for this new stanadard begins during the 2015 school year.  The change will not be easy.  The change will require entirely new teaching methods, big budget changes for every school district (so expect a lot of fundraisers parents), and a drop in testing scores throughout the United States is expected.  Some experts say testing scores can drop as much as 40% at first and to be completely shocking to some Districts and their parents.

Part of the Common Core standards include that each state involved runs within the same, basic curriculum so that if a student transfers between states they should be on the same English or Mathetmatic level whereas, previous to now, if a student transferred between states and schools there was no guarantee that the student wouldn’t be behind when transferring schools due to varying school standards.

Additionally, each teacher is required to turn in teaching plans and classroom materials that meet a required benchmark prior to teaching.  This benchmark must meet not only that of the school but of the entire Common Core standards program and the teaching curriculum.

Changes among English classes include 70 percent of all course materials will be informative or non-fiction and 30 percent will be literature, according to the standards (for 12th grade students).  This is a drastic change for most English classes.  This requirement is seen as important for college and life prepardness because of the English courses required in college as well as the necessities of life.  The Common Core program believes that students need to be able to read through an employee handbook just as comprehensively as they will need to understand the works of Shakespeare.

“This is a rigorous set of standards,” said Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, who strongly supports the new standards. “It will allow students to connect to higher education in new ways … and improve teaching practices.” (www.kjonline.com)

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