Most states in America are laying out plans to implement the Common Core Standards, but according to data collected during recent focus groups, many parents of the children who’ll be most affected by the change are still in the dark about what the Common Core actually is.
The eight focus groups were conducted by the Center for Strategic Research and Communication over February and March of this year, with part of the funding for the information-gathering effort provided by the GE Foundation.
The new standards, which are designed to get students either college- or career-ready, were put together by a panel made of representatives from almost every state. They are scheduled to go into effect in about a year, but most of the parents who participated in the focus groups felt that their school districts didn’t provide enough information about the upcoming changes.
In a couple of groups, the participants mentioned that, as one participant put it, “if they can put on a campaign to announce the conversion from analog to digital TV, how come we can’t have an awareness campaign for parents to learn about a major education reform?” They felt that they should hear about it from the mainstream media and from their school districts.
Many raised concerns about lack of teacher preparedness to handle lessons that covered more challenging materials. Some also asked about the provisions districts made to help students who weren’t performing at grade level when the changes occurred. Parents of students scheduled to graduate shortly after the standards were rolled out also worried that they might have a negative impact on their children’s academic future.
Overall, however, parents responded positively to the fact that a more rigorous and more standardized curriculum would be introduced into American schools, especially if it would put the United States on par with the nations that lead it on international rankings of science and mathematics achievement. The fact that the standards were more or less identical everywhere in the country proved to be especially comforting to families that moved frequently due to military service or employment conditions.
The initiative promises consistent learning goals for all students regardless of where they live. This point was particularly appreciated by the participants who had to move during their children’s tenure in school.
Although the respondents had positive impressions of their children’s schools, they believed that today’s high schools don’t adequately prepare students for college or for careers in the 21st century. This concern is a key motivating factor behind the creation and implementation of the Common Core.