The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards in language and math which the 50 US states more or less agreed upon beginning in 2010. The CCSS are an attempt to strengthen and unify the curricula of all states so that students from Alaska to Florida will end each year of their education with the same knowledge and skills. For example, in all states, third graders should begin to learn how to do research, and eighth graders should master how to write argumentative essays.
In the area of English/language arts and literature, four categories of standards apply with increasing complexity as a student grows. Those categories are
- Text types and purposes, including identifying and producing three kinds of texts: narrative, opinion and informational.
- Production and distribution of writing, including instruction from teachers and peers on how to plan, write, revise, edit and publish texts; and learning word processing beginning in third grade.
- Research to build and present knowledge, including learning how to do research, how to draw evidence, how to identify and use support from literature, and how to support claims a student makes.
- Range of writing, including from third grade onward, writing frequently over short and long periods of time for many discipline-specific tasks and audiences; using extended class time over several days to research, think and revise; and using shorter periods of time, such as a day or two, for the same purposes.
Adapting these Common Core Standards has meant many changes in language arts classes in the past dozen years, such as
- emphasizing writing more than before in all grades.
- expecting students to produce ever more sophisticated work.
- requiring students to use research, not their own opinions, to back up claims.
- requiring students to analyze evidence found in texts and to use that evidence in persuasive or informational writing rather than depending on their own experiences for evidence or for narrative subject matter.
- requiring students to use academic vocabulary and the vocabulary of the genre they are writing about (using the words “iambic pentameter” and “couplet,” for example, when writing about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
So what does this mean for students today?
- More writing time during class and more writing homework.
- Doing research, especially online research, and incorporating findings into student work.
- More focus on using the vocabulary of an educated adult.
- Learning how to use a keyboard, computer, and software, and to produce printed, not handwritten work.
So at the end of twelve years of education—2,160 days—your child should be able to produce an eloquent essay backed by citations from various sources to support a main idea in any number of genres.
Or in other words, your child should be able to do what ChatGPT can do now in seconds.