The Common Core State Standards Initiative was released in 2010 and is an effort to ensure all K-12 public school students in the U.S. acquire the skills and knowledge they need for college and the workforce. Before this initiative, each state set their own educational requirements. This resulted in unequal and lower standards across states which made it difficult for colleges and employers to gauge the value of a student’s high school diploma. At this current time, 45 states have adopted the Common Core Standards. It has not yet been adopted by Alaska, Puerto Rico, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana and Virginia.
Many students are still getting use to the idea of common core. In conversations with my 9th grade students they tell me the experience is “lengthy” with “a lot of steps” and “confusing.” The goal of common core is to encourage deeper learning. However, sometimes the outcomes do not follow the expectations. Seeing that the Common core is here to stay for the time being, I’ve tried to help my students with some study tips to help them in their classes.
1. Closely read the text – This may require the student to abandon any preconceived thoughts on a topic in order to answer the question correctly. Questions are not meant to confuse students but to test how students think based on the evidence from the texts.
2. Make sense of the problem – Many times students answer a problem incorrectly because they didn’t understand what the problem is asking. Students should make sure they are addressing the prompt before breaking down a problem into plain language and answering.
3. Show your thought process – In answering a question, students should use linear thinking and start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. Problems should be laid out in logical detailed steps.
4. Think abstractly and quantitatively – Problem solving requires students to use concepts and make and understand properties or patterns. Students can draw logical conclusions from a set of observations such as making an hypotheses and testing them.
5. Make use of structure – Often math problems hold patterns. Students should look closely to discern a pattern or structure. Once patterns are recognized by students complex expressions can be visualized with more clarity.
By Victoria Hui, ThinkTank Learning Admissions Consultant/Academic Counselor