Explore the Core: Communicating with Parents about the Idaho Core Standards

Kimberly Barnes

By Kimberly Barnes, Family and Community Engagement Coordinator

Last week, Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa released their annual poll of the public's attitudes toward public schools. This year's poll included questions about the Common Core State Standards. According to the poll, "almost two of three Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards." The need to educate parents as we transition to the Idaho Core Standards is evident.

The same poll showed that teachers are the most trusted voice when it comes to a child's education: "More than 70% of Americans have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach in public schools." Teachers play a valuable role in educating parents about the value of the new, more rigorous standards.

How Can Teachers Help Inform Parents?

One easy way to raise awareness about the Idaho Core Standards with parents is with the parent brochures the State Department of Education recently printed and distributed to every school district and public charter school in the state. The brochures explain why Idaho is transitioning to these new academic standards, what the standards are, what's different about the standards, and how the standards will be implemented. Talk with your principal about sharing this great resource with parents.

In addition, educators across the country are using parent newsletters, social media, and e-mail lists to communicate with parents about the new standards. The Foundation for Excellence in Education has made this even easier by publishing two guides (one for elementary schools and one for secondary schools) with 30 weeks (one school years' worth) of messages for parents. Each message includes resources and videos for parents to quickly learn about the standards. Consider incorporating these resources into your regular communications with parents.

What Changes Can Parents Expect?

When talking with parents, most want to know how their child's education will change under the new standards. Here is how we have boiled it down to easily communicate with parents.

In English Language Arts, students will:

  1. Read challenging texts in every class. They will continue to read classic literature, stories, and poems in English class, but they also will be challenged with studying and analyzing non-fiction texts in all subject areas as well.
  2. Use evidence from the multiple texts in their oral presentation or written papers
  3. Learn an increased vocabulary across all grade levels

In mathematics, students will:

  1. Work more deeply in fewer topics
  2. Understand why the math works and be asked to talk about and prove their understanding
  3. Use math in real-world situations so they can apply problem-solving and critical thinking skills

As the expert in your classroom and content area, feel free to add on to this language as you see fit.

How Can Parents Support Their Child?

All parents want their children to succeed, but often they don't know where to begin. In response, the National PTA developed the Parent's Guide to Student Success to help inform parents what their child should be learning in each grade once the new standards are fully implemented and what they can do at home to support what their child is learning at school.

Teacher-parent partnerships promote the success of every child. As a trusted voice in education, we strongly encourage you to be proactive in communicating with parents about the positive changes the Idaho Core Standards will bring to your classroom this year and in the future.