Common Core Standards Roll Out To County Schools

FishHawk resident Leticia Hagy moved to Florida from Virginia one week ago with two elementary students, one in second and one in fourth grade, but that didn’t stop her from attending an information night at FishHawk Creek Elementary regarding Common Core Standards.

“I’m just trying to see how different this is from where we’re coming from,” she said. “In Virginia we had Standards of Learning, or SOL.”

The information night was hosted by the School Advisory Committee (SAC) to help parents understand the changes that have taken place in the district and at the school. The School District of Hillsborough County adopted the new standards, called Common Core Standards, in English Language Arts and Mathematics, which has impacted the way children are taught, how they learn and how they will be assessed. Hillsborough County schools became fully integrated with these standards in the 2013/2014 school year. The Standards, adopted by 45 states, were researched, written and developed by professional educators and education experts from across the United States and adopted by the Florida Department of Education in 2010. They provide clear educational standards while allowing local districts and schools the flexibility needed to deliver quality instruction in the classroom.

“We need standards to be consistent so kids are on the same playing field no matter what state you live in, no matter what your zip code, whether you attend an inner-city school or one in the suburbs,” said reading coach, Lisa Monette. “It’s more than a curriculum; it’s what a child should be able to do.”

The new standards can be seen in English Language Arts with a focus on what texts students are reading and the questions associated with those texts. Students are reading a greater number of non-fiction works (in elementary school 50 percent non-fiction to 50 percent narrative) because informational text is more challenging to understand than narrative text. Students then answer text-dependent questions, finding answers within the text itself. “It’s more rigorous, more challenging,” said principal Pamela Bush.

Parents can help their students at home by encouraging children to read their writing out loud and ask questions about their word choices, go to a play or musical together and then discuss the way actors bring the words to life or discuss family stories and history and encourage children to compile the information in an album or brainstorm ways to tell family tales. For more information about Common Core Standards, visit www.commoncoreworks.org.