This month’s newsletter is focused on two topics that we often get asked about: Common Core and the role of educational technologies, such as Square Panda, in the age of Common Core.
So, what is Common Core and why was it created? The Common Core Standards are a nationwide effort to align the United States on what learning outcomes and expectations for students from K-12 would prepare them for higher education and their future careers. The No Child Left Behind law, introduced in 2002, mandated states to conduct annual proficiency exams to students from 3rd to 12th grade. However, without national standards of what proficiency entails, outcomes could not be compared from state to state. Common Core was created to increase and align the quality and rigor of student standards across states. 42 states, Washington D.C., four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core as of now (“Standards in Your State”).
We also commend states such as Texas, who have adapted their own state curriculum standards and have implemented it in in their schools. The National Conference of State legislator’s website is a helpful resource if you are interested in learning more about Common Core and how it is impacting education guidelines in different states.
The Role of Educational Technology in the Age of Common Core
The way students learn today is vastly different from the way students have traditionally learned in the past. Typewriters have been replaced with personal computers (yes I am that old!), the dictionary has been replaced with quick web searches and the web is now an instant resource for any kind of question a student may need answered. Today, students have access to vast amounts of information at any time and they digest it at amazing speed. Interestingly, however, the methods we use for learning how to read, write or create text are still largely the same as they were when typewriters were still on our desks.
This is clearly not due to a lack of availability of educational technology products in the classroom, which has surged over the past decade. Instead, instructional methods have not changed because it is not often clear how technology should be used to guide instruction. In a PBS survey of 500 teachers, 91 percent reported that they had access to personal computers or laptops in the classroom, but only 22 percent of those teachers feel like they have access to the right level of technology.
Teachers want apps that are not only fun and engaging, but that help students learn. This means there has to be quality content. However, with more than a million apps available for download, thousands of which claim to be educational, identifying quality content is like finding a needle in a haystack. How can we at Square Panda and other Educational Technology companies help?
Take a look at Common Core! The standards provide a clear sequence of instructional goals for teaching literacy and other subjects in 42 out of 50 states. Specifically, the standards describe what students should know and be able to do in each subject in each grade. The goal of having the Common Core standards is to ensure that all students get a good education, even if they change schools or move to a different state. It provides a way to level the instructional playing field for all students. The same concept of standardization of learning content can be applied to educational technology products. In other words, the more closely a technology product can align its instructional goals with that of the Common Core standards, the more likely that the product will succeed at moving the needle on learning goals that are defining those standards. Of course, the effects of such alignment with Common Core should not only be tangential, but clear and measureable. Achieving close alignment while at the same time providing fun and engaging content is not always easy, but it is important step that Ed Tech companies need to take to help teacher find the content they need and help students learn. At Square Panda, we are dedicated to aligning our curriculum content with the Common Core standards and to measuring progress through research studies in classrooms around the nation.
Let’s say goodbye to the digital ‘Wild West’ of reading apps and figure out resourceful ways that make an impact on how students learn!
~Article by Dr. Vera Blau-McCandliss
Common Core & Reading Literacy
The Common Core covers English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards. Square Panda’s multisensory phonics learning system focuses on improving reading literacy for your child under the following three areas within the Common Core English Language Arts Standards:
*Source: English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Foundational Skills » Kindergarten. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2017, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RF/K/
Upcoming Conferences Square Panda is an exhibitor at these upcoming conferences. Make sure and visit our booth if you are in attendance!