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Monday, September 5, 2011

CCSS Say What???

Like it or not, they are here. Readers that are educators know what it is to which I refer...readers that are parents soon will! "They" are the Common Core State Standards, otherwise known as CCSS. These are standards currently being phased in to replace the Arkansas State Standards which were brought about to meet No Child Left Behind goals of 2001. These standards are expected to be fully developed and ready for use at all levels (K-12) by 2014, among 44 (I have seen some articles claiming 49) states. This year, implementation began in kindergarten thru second grade in our state. Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is, and what the reason was for the change. It is my understanding that colleges and workplaces have been experiencing difficulty because students leaving high school are not entering places of higher education or the workforce with the level of preparedness necessary for success. Thus, the development of the CCSS. For all intents and purposes, these standards have been created to bring college and career ready students out of high schools across the nation. Check out this quick explanation by Dr. Tom Kimbrell, the Arkansas Education Commissioner.

What does this mean for our kinders? It means that they are learning things more at their developmental level. This is good news! Rather than pushing students to learn a million things on a cursory level, we are able to teach them specific skills in-depth. There isn't the pressure of before to move on even if they didn't 'quite' get it. Teach it...and teach it well...when they know it, THEN move on. It means that kids are learning nursery rhymes again. They are really learning their numbers, and how to count those numbers. They are learning colors, shapes, letters, phonics, vocabulary words, sight words...things that kinders need to learn. And shhh...don't get too excited...there will be no high-stakes testing in kindergarten this year!!! It finally feels like kindergarten in my classroom, rather than having the feeling of first grade! It has best been said that students will now learn topics a mile deep, instead of a mile wide. The skills that they will take from each grade level will be built upon at the next level...and if they move in from out of town or even out of state...wait for it...they won't be behind because so many states are teaching the same standards!!!

There is one downside that I have found to these new standards though. These are the binders that I have to have every weekend when I sit down to write the next week's lesson plans!

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