Common Core State Standards Encourage Deep Understanding of Concepts

Common core state standards have been developed so that students in kindergarten through 12th grade will have a uniform set of expectations, and will graduate with the skills needed for college or career. Teachers are able to focus on the most important skills children will need to be able to compete academically. Parents know what to expect from schools in the United States and will be able to help their children benefit more effectively from their education. At least 45 states plus the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands have adopted the core standards. They will be implemented by the 2014-15 school year.

The core standards emphasize depth of understanding so that concepts are learned thoroughly. This builds the foundation for later learning, and helps students to avoid confusion when they move on the next level. Instead of simply teaching so that students can pass achievement tests, instructors are able to focus on developing skills and concepts and show students how they apply to real-life situations.

Once a concept is taught, it must be reviewed in several ways. One very useful tool in this practice is on-line math games that automatically adjust to each student’s level of understanding. Games can be used to help students review concepts that have been presented and develop a more complete understanding. They can practice math facts to achieve fluency. As they meet new challenges, the students develop critical thinking skills and creative ways to solve problems.

Assessments Useful in Implementing Core Concepts

To ensure that students are ready to benefit from instruction, an initial assessment is usually given by the school. This may be quite brief for young children just entering kindergarten. More than academic skills, these children need good social skills, the ability to listen, and strong fine-motor skills. They should be curious and eager to learn, and be able to talk about the world around them.

Progress assessments are given on a regular basis to make sure that a child is benefitting from instruction. To be most useful, assessments should align with and reflect the common core state standards.

Teachers want to catch problems quickly so that intervention will be most effective. Some online math games provide real-time feedback to teachers so they can provide help when it is needed to students who are struggling. This is a very valuable feature.

Deep Learning of Concepts
The common core state standards cut down on the number of concepts and skills that must be taught in school so that teachers can concentrate on those that research has shown to be most valuable. Knowledge and skills are presented at age-appropriate intervals, when most children will be ready to absorb the ideas and apply them.

Instead of learning just enough to pass a test, the child is expected to develop understanding of how the principles taught in school apply to situations outside of school. In grades kindergarten through five, the student builds a solid understanding of whole numbers and how they are related to one another. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are taught with meaningful examples. Once whole numbers are thoroughly mastered, fractions and decimals are learned.

Online math games that enhance a child’s understanding of the relationships between numbers help to deepen their knowledge of these basic concepts. The student is also challenged by games that ask them to use critical thinking skills. Game systems that allow the child to continue exploration at home and still provide the teacher with feedback on modules the child completes and competency levels are especially valuable.

Consistency of Expectations
With most states adopting the common core state standards, children who move from one school district to another can progress in their education more readily. The curriculum will differ, but the knowledge and skills taught throughout the grade levels will be much more consistent.

This will be advantageous to colleges, vocational schools and employers who will know how they can expect a high school graduate to perform. Since the common core state standards are drawn at least partly from the instruction given in top-performing countries, graduating students from the United States will be better able to compete in the world market.

Implementation of these standards will enable schools to show proof of the quality of education they provide. It will help students compete more successfully both in academic settings and in their chosen careers. By encouraging in-depth exploration and higher-level thinking skills, the core standards should prove to be a valuable tool in the hands of educators.

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