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Connecting Afterschool learning with Common Core State Standards

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News

Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.

By Jen Rinehart, for Afterschool Snack, the blog of the Afterschool Alliance on April 30, 2013

While volunteering in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom recently, I noticed a stack of kindergarten math workbooks that proudly advertised, “Aligned with the Common Core State Standards.”  It was a clear sign that the Common Core standards have arrived in classrooms across the country and a reminder to me that the Afterschool Alliance can help afterschool providers better understand Common Core and what roles afterschool stakeholders can play in supporting learning under the Common Core.

So what are the Common Core State Standards?  They are a set of standards in reading/language arts and math that resulted from several years of collective thinking by teachers, researchers and leading experts in the education field about what students should know and be able to do in mathematics and English language arts.  Prior to the Common Core, most states had their own individual sets of standards.

Why do the Common Core State Standards exist?  Proponents of Common Core argue that with the adoption of the standards, students who move from state to state, and especially students in military families who might make multiple moves in a K-12 career, will have a smoother transition because the schools in each state will be working from the same set of high expectations about what kids in each grade should be able to do.  They also point out that states can share instructional resources like textbooks and even assessments, which are currently under development and expected to be rolled out during the 2013-2014 school year.  As you might imagine, there are also education leaders who question the value of Common Core, particularly since the Common Core were not pilot tested prior to roll out to nearly all states, and who view Common Core and the related assessments as costly (both for the country and our children’s futures) experiments in learning.

What does Common Core mean for afterschool?  Whether you agree or disagree with Common Core, these standards are the reality for students, families and educators in nearly every state.  While the goals of afterschool go well beyond academic support, given the importance of Common Core to educators and the ways in which Common Core will impact the learning experience for children and youth, the Common Core will surely affect afterschool providers as well.

How can you help prepare afterschool programs and staff to support learning under the Common Core State Standards?

As the recognition of the valuable role that afterschool and summer programs play in supporting student learning continues to grow, it is essential that afterschool providers demonstrate how they can expand on and complement the learning that happens during the school day.  Throughout the rest of 2013 and beyond, we’ll be working to provide the afterschool community with resources related to Common Core and the role of afterschool in helping all students succeed in school and out.

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