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How the Common Core focuses on the future

MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2014 11:59 AM

College readiness refers to a student's ability to succeed at a collegiate level, a goal that requires them to have gathered a certain amount of information in high school. The ACT (a test for assessing college readiness) focuses on reading, English, math and science. A recent study conducted by ACT found that only 52 percent of kids are prepared for college in all subject areas.

Unfortunately, this number isn't as high as colleges and high schools want it to be. That's where the Common Core State Standards come in. This set of benchmarks was designed to help students prepare for their academic futures. 

Common Core development
Designed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers with the aid of teachers, the Common Core State Standards are modeled after the information kids need to know to be prepared for college. What do universities expect incoming freshman to already have learned? The answer to that question helped guide the creation of the Common Core. As kids work their way from K-12, they hit different benchmarks to ensure they'll arrive at graduation ready to enter college and excel. For example, kindergartners must know how to count to 100 in 1s and 10s, and their first grade teacher will build off that knowledge the following year. 

Hitting key readiness areas
College readiness includes four things: the development of cognitive strategies, self-management skills (such as time management), content knowledge and knowledge about postsecondary education.

Cognitive strategies: In college (and in careers), students must use cognitive strategies to solve problems. For example, they'll have to analyze an argument presented in a text, compare and contrast information, build methodologies for creating a solution and implement those ideas.

Self-management: When kids graduate high school, they must be able to motivate themselves. No one forces them to go to class or study in college. No one reminds them when assignments are due. They must learn to do these things on their own, and discipline is a skill that must be practiced during K-12.

Content knowledge: Teachers will expect their students to have a certain level of subject matter knowledge when they reach college. That foundation comes from pre-collegiate studies. The Common Core benchmarks help students learn the information they are expected to know later in their academic careers. 

Postsecondary knowledge: Not everyone is aware of what they should know to be ready for college. The Common Core hopes to change that, ensuring all kids have some understanding of what college will be like.