For Teachers

5 Ways Common Core State Standards Prepare Students for College

By The Room 241 Team September 29, 2012

Students in the United States are lagging behind those in many other countries and many students today enter college unprepared for the work required.

A large number of colleges now put incoming students through a series of courses that teach them how to analyze literature, compose coherent papers, and other basic skills they should have learned in high school. To remedy this situation, the nationwide Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) is working to develop standards for states to implement. Students who meet those standards will be better prepared for college.

Benefits of Common Core State Standards

  • Easier assessment. Parents are one of the most important factors in helping get their kids ready for college, and CCSS can help parents support their children to reach their educational goals. Because the CCSS specifically state what students should accomplish by the end of each grade level, parents can understand and help assess whether their children are meeting these standards. Even in states that haven’t adopted the standards, parents can review them and help fill in the gaps where their children are not yet meeting the standards.
  • Learning techniques. It’s often not specific knowledge of information, but understanding of principles of how to learn that help students succeed in college. Rather than focusing on learning specific facts, the CCSS include modes of learning and higher-order skills that prepare students for college. Students who build an internal structure of how to assimilate information will be better able to apply this structure to their college courses, and eventually to the workplace. Having flexible standards that focus on the end results of the student’s character and skill set, not just knowledge, helps shape the types of teaching and class work in the K-12 setting that will help students learn how to learn.
  • Advanced reading materials. The language arts portion of the CCSS emphasizes the reading of increasingly complex texts. The assigned reading in college courses is often published in academic circles, and is much more advanced than textbooks written for a high school level. Increased exposure to complex texts in high school helps students learn how to read and understand the types of materials they will encounter in college. This helps them complete their assignments more quickly and efficiently and get the most out of their college courses.
  • Consistent standards. The CCSS program is especially beneficial for students who move to a different state during their K-12 education.  This prevents them from repeating material. Existing state standards don’t have set years in which students learn particular skills or topics, which can cause students who move frequently to miss out on large portions of K-12 education. The CCSS helps all students get a basic education in the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in college, regardless of whether or not they moved frequently during childhood.
  • College preparation. Having common standards from one state to another helps put students on the same footing as their peers when they enter college. Many colleges draw students from across the country, and with states working toward the same goals in their K-12 education systems, the students will have similar educational backgrounds. This will help prevent some students from lagging behind their peers when they enter college. In addition, colleges will be better able to develop their curriculum with the assumption that incoming students have specific skills, so they can jump right into instruction rather than wasting time on introductory courses.

One of the best parts about the CCSS initiative is that it’s led by states, not by the federal government. It’s a much more collaborative effort, and one that allows states to participate voluntarily to help guide the education of their students. Rather than feeling like they’re being penalized for failure to meet federal standards, the CCSS will drive states toward excellence in their public education systems.

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