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 subjects match what my students learn 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 answers, and also discuss the importance of this question in context. Our curriculum is based on the United States’ national standards, also 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

What is “Common Core,” anyways?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative provides a list of skills that students should accomplish in each grade level. Many people think it is a full detailed calendar indicating the exact material and lesson timing of each concept.  It is not that. Schools (and teachers) have the autonomy to teach what they want and when they want. And some states are not using Common Core standards at all. Only 41 states currently use them. The nine other states use their own set of standards and requirements for their public schools’ curriculum and implement their own form of annual testing. Just because a state may not follow Common Core does not mean that it has no standards at all. Quite the contrary! In fact, you might be surprised to learn that these nine states have standards that are very similar to Common Core, anyway.

(Psst… We’ve got you covered on all your Common Core questions at the A Grade Ahead Blog. Find out about testing, understanding vs. memorizationthe 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?

A Grade Ahead is proud that our curriculum meets and exceeds Common Core standards. In 2015, we rewrote and edited all grades of our math and English curriculum to make sure that we were in alignment with the national standards. The result of that work ensures that by the end of A Grade Ahead’s curriculum calendar in May, our students have mastered all of the skills listed on the Common Core standards by the end of their grade.

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

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’s true, 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 American schools follow either Common Core national 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 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 in 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.

Plus, our curriculum goes year round, so there are extra months of lessons (June, July, August) that ultimately give students more learning and practice than they’d get in school. This is a big reason why we encourage students to continue at A Grade Ahead in the summer, so they can truly stay ahead of the class. (Read more about 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 school work 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 the student is mastering the topic in preparation for the next academic challenge. The system works: just ask 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 you 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 at specific times – which means 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 sincerely hope that this ultimate guide to common core standards and A Grade Ahead curriculum helps you and your family navigate any educational standards. We also hope that we answered any questions that you may have. What do you think? Did this guide help explain common core standards and A Grade Ahead curriculum work together? How has A Grade Ahead’s curriculum helped your student?

Author: Audrey Webster, Marketing Assistant at A Grade Ahead


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