Common Core Standards and A Grade Ahead Curriculum

One of the questions we hear often from parents participating in A Grade Ahead’s Academy or Enrichment at Home programs is this: “Do the topics match what my students are learning in school?” It’s a great question! There are a lot of reasons why A Grade Ahead curriculum might not line up exactly with your child’s specific school curriculum. Let’s take a look at some of the these, and also discuss the importance of this question in context. Our curriculum is based on the United States’ national standards, sometimes called Common Core. In fact, we meet and exceed these standards! But even the national standards are not “one size fits all.” Don’t feel overwhelmed about common core standards and A Grade Ahead curriculum. Let’s first start by defining what Common Core is (and what it is not). Keep reading to see our detailed table on how three curriculum guides (including ours) compare!

Common Core Standards and A Grade Ahead Curriculum FAQ

Common Core at a Glance

  • The Common Core State Standards are a set of academic standards for K–12 math and English language arts.
  • Most states now use these standards in public schools.

What is “Common Core”?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative is a set of academic standards in math and English language arts and reading, also known as ELA. These standards exist to outline what a student should know at the end of each grade in public educational systems. In an ideal world, these standards will contribute to making sure that every student, regardless of where they reside, graduates from high school with the knowledge and abilities they need to succeed in college, in their job, and in their life.

Adopting the CCSS Initiative may mean different things in different states; therefore, different people might come to different judgments about the total number of states that use the common core. Also, remember that in some circumstances, state education boards are obligated by law to periodically review, update, or reassess their academic standards; in some cases, this is happening right now or in the near future.  Although there are some states that have not adopted the CCSS, many times, the standards that are implemented are similar to the CCSS standards. The way the standards are organized makes it easier for instructors to keep their eyes on the big picture and understand how their work with children relates to a child’s academic history and future.

(Psst… We’ve got you covered on all your Common Core questions at the A Grade Ahead Blog. Find out about testing, understanding vs. memorization, the truth about the Common Core myths, and a general guide to Common Core standards!)

What do Common Core standards mean for A Grade Ahead’s curriculum?

In 2015, A Grade Ahead went through a rigorous rewriting and editing of our math and English curriculum to align with the national standards.  By doing so, when a student participates in A Grade Ahead’s year-round curriculum, students should have mastered the Common Core criteria by the conclusion of their grade. A Grade Ahead’s intent is to make sure that every student who uses our curriculum is prepared for the next grade and that the CCSS standards for that specific grade are met.

But what if A Grade Ahead teaches skills at a different time than my child’s school?

The CCSS standards are structured in a straightforward, linear way that recognizes how a first-grade teacher’s efforts help a high-school student progress. This interconnectedness between grade levels is a change from some prior state standards, which bounced from subject to subject, targeting a particular skill in one year, dropping it in the next, and revisiting it later on or not at all.

One of the good things about Common Core standards is the fact that they do not dictate how school districts should teach the subject matter. That leaves states and districts to figure out their preferences. Therefore, there are hundreds of different approaches across the country. A Grade Ahead obviously cannot match our curriculum to all of them.

But the good news is that most skills, especially in the early elementary school years, build upon each other. (You have to do one-digit multiplication before you can do two-digit multiplication.) So, for the most part, students are learning in the same succession regardless of their location. However, it is true that sometimes, the lessons at A Grade Ahead will not match up with the lessons at school. Please don’t worry—all is not lost.

Is it truly important to have school lessons mirror A Grade Ahead exactly?

It’s all about learning and reinforcing key skills – not about timing.

Most schools in the United States follow either CCSS standards or similar standards, so A Grade Ahead created our curriculum calendar accordingly. This means that in the course of a school year, students will learn or reinforce all of their school material within their A Grade Ahead curriculum.

Think of it this way: if students are taught a new subject lesson at A Grade Ahead first, and then they encounter it at school, they will have an advantage. After already learning the topic from A Grade Ahead, they will be able to work on mastery and application, instead of struggling like some of their classmates. On the other hand, if students happen to learn a topic in school first, then A Grade Ahead will give students advanced practice and mastery while giving your students an opportunity to be challenged.

Additionally, because  our curriculum is year-round, there are extra months of instruction (June, July, and August) that provide students with more learning and practice than they would receive in a traditional classroom. This is a key factor in why we advise students to stick with A Grade Ahead during the summer, so that they can continue to be academically ahead of the class. (Learn why to start classes in June and how summer enrichment helps high schoolers!)

Mastering the subject matter is the most important thing.

We understand why parents ask about the discrepancy between a student’s schoolwork and A Grade Ahead work. But honestly, it can only help your child to hear a lesson in two different ways at two different times. Whether the lesson is learned first at school or A Grade Ahead, the bottom line is that a student is mastering the topic in preparation for the next academic challenge. The system works: just ask one of the 30,000 A Grade Ahead students who have benefited from our program!

Can I adjust A Grade Ahead curriculum to fit my school’s curriculum?

We are confident that our comprehensive A Grade Ahead curriculum calendar can work for any student in any school district. However, for our Enrichment at Home parents who still have a strong preference that their student completes the same subject matter at school and A Grade Ahead, there are options. Enrichment at Home parents have the ability to receive any month of curriculum when they choose, which means they don’t have to complete Month 1 before Month 2.  It is not recommended because we carefully plan our curriculum as a progression from Month 1 through 12, meaning that there might be some material from a previous month that helps a student complete a later month. However, it is possible for parents to review their school district’s curriculum schedule and compare it to the Enrichment at Home curriculum calendar here. Parents can then call to request the months of material that they would like to receive and when.

Common Core Standards and A Grade Ahead Curriculum: How Do They Compare?

So how closely does A Grade Ahead’s curriculum align with Common Core and other standards across the country? Let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of 2nd grade math curriculum.

We’ve included three different 2nd Grade curriculum guides for easy comparison: Common Core, A Grade Ahead, and an example of a Texas school district’s standards. Texas is non-compliant when it comes to National Standards, meaning that it doesn’t follow them. However, like the National Standards, the Texas standards do not dictate specific lessons be taught at specific times, which means that each school district (and maybe even classroom) will vary, yet the skills required to be taught are almost identical, as they also are in A Grade Ahead’s curriculum calendar.

Take a look below and see how the three curriculum guides compare!

A Grade Ahead

 

National Standards (Common Core)

 

Texas Standards Example

 

Month 1 (June) Operations and Algebraic Thinking Numbers and Operations
  • Counting
  • Fractions
  • Place value
Represent and solve problems
  • Numbers up to 1,200
Month 2 (July) involving addition and subtraction
  • Column addition (up to 4 columns)
  • Rounding
  • Using money symbols
  • Estimation
Add and subtract within 20
  • Contextual multiplication and division
Month 3 (August)
  • Money
Work with equal groups of objects                            Algebraic Reasoning
Month 4 (September) Gain foundations for multiplication
  • Addition and Subtraction Facts
Geometry and Measurement
  • Word Problems
Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Patterns
  • Understand place value
Data Analysis
Month 5 (October)
  • Use place value understanding and
  • Bar graphs
  • Geometry
    properties of operations to add
  • Pictographs
Month 6 (November)    and subtract
  • Fractions
Personal Finance
  • Calendar
Measurement and Data
  • Calculate money
Month 7 (December)
  • Measure and estimate lengths
  • Deposits and withdrawals
  • Time
    in standard units
  • Borrowing
Month 8 (January)
  • Relate addition and subtraction
  • Calculating simple costs
  • Tables
    to length
  • Bar and line graphs
Month 9 (February) Work with time and money
  • Grade Readiness (Prepping for
    Tests and Next Grade) Represent and interpret data
Month 10 (March)
  • Length
Geometry
  • Weight
  • Reason with shapes and their
Month 11 (April)     attributes
  • Liquid volume
  • Algebraic thinking Multiplication
Month 12 (May)
  • Application and Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We really hope that this comprehensive introduction to the Common Core State Standards and the A Grade Ahead program will assist you and your family in navigating any state-mandated academic standards. We also hope that we were able to address any queries you may have had. How do you feel? Did this article clarify how the A Grade Ahead curriculum and the Common Core State Standards work together? How has your student benefited from the A Grade Ahead curriculum?

Original Author: Audrey Webster

Updated Author: Pamela Crum, Lead Teacher at A Grade Ahead


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