Despite an unrelenting barrage of controversy, the Common Core Standards continue to roll forward in most of the 45 states that have adopted them. Testing of students against the new standards is expected to begin by the 2014-15 school year, if not sooner. Twenty states plan to implement the Common Core in the upcoming 2013-14 school year, while seven states plus the District of Columbia have already implemented both the English and Math standards. (Minnesota has adopted only the English standard and has already implemented it.)

With implementation and testing upon them, school districts and teachers are rushing to get up to speed on the Common Core. Integration of the new approach is likely to be an ongoing effort, but it’s urgent for educators to understand and embrace the gist of the new standards.

What’s different about the Common Core? In a nutshell, it emphasizes quality over quantity. Now the emphasis is on depth rather than breadth of knowledge, especially in mathematical concepts. Material will be covered in greater depth, and testing will approach similar tasks in multiple ways, to ensure that students understand the concepts. Common core testing is also likely to ask open-ended questions and pose interrelated problems, while de-emphasizing multiple-choice.

Likewise, the Common Core standards for English encompass not just language arts, but also literacy as it relates to history/social studies and technical subjects. The goal is to give students the experience they will need for college and career readiness in a wide range of disciplines. Students will be asked to show proficiency in reading, writing and language usage in multiple subject areas, along with the ability to read, understand and comment critically on complex works of literature.

How are these changes likely to impact tutors and tutoring practice? Here are three possibilities?

  • As with classroom teachers, many tutors will need formal training and professional development to help them internalize the new standards and communicate them successfully in group and individual tutoring sessions. Many tutors will need to revise their learning modules and develop new teaching techniques. Tutors will also be called upon to connect with parents to explain the Common Core and how it will change the tutoring approach their children are exposed to.
  • As the nation transitions to this new educational approach, new digital learning tools, online resources, and delivery models are rapidly becoming available—many bearing the “Common Core” logo. Likewise, tutoring companies are offering “Common Core aligned” products and programs. In some cases this goes beyond homework help, test prep or even enrichment, to the development of special educational strategies to support success with Common Core learning challenges. Tutors will need to familiarize themselves with some of these new tools so they can both apply them and advise others on their value and use.
  • Because the new standards are more demanding and require a new educational approach, both students and classroom teachers might be challenged to “step up,” especially at first. Indeed, many teachers feel their districts are not yet prepared for the shift to Common Core. That is likely to increase the demand for tutors in both one-on-one/private and after-school/supplemental learning contexts.

How are the emerging Common Core standards impacting your tutoring business? What changes do you see in the future?

Featured image courtesy of asgw.

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