In Idaho, we face a challenge. While Idaho students perform well academically in grades K-12, too many students graduate from high school unprepared for the rigors of postsecondary education or the workforce. Other states face the same challenge.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Governor Otter decided to work together with other states to solve this problem. Through a voluntary, state-led effort, known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative, states took the lead to develop new academic standards in mathematics and English language arts that are higher, more in depth, and comparable with any other country in the world.
With these standards in place, Idaho students will now graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century. Whether your child chooses to go on to college, professional-technical school, the workforce or the military after high school, he or she will be prepared.
The Standards That Were Developed
These standards were designed to ensure students graduating from high school are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce and that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. The standards:
- Are aligned with college and workforce expectations;
- Are clear, understandable, and consistent;
- Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
- Build upon strengths and lessons of current Idaho state standards;
- Were informed by standards in other top-performing countries; and
After Idaho voluntarily chose to adopt these standards, they became known as Idaho's Core Standards. More than 45 U.S. states and territories, including Idaho, have voluntarily adopted the standards.
What Has Changed?
The new Idaho Core Standards are higher and different than Idaho’s previous standards. We recognize it will take time for students to master these new standards. Here is a look at how the standards are different in each subject are.
English Language Arts & Literacy 1
1. Challenging students with different types of texts.
- What this means: Students will read challenging texts in every class. They will continue to read classic literature, stories, and poems in English class, but they also will be challenged with studying and analyzing non-fiction texts in all subject areas as well.
- The benefit: Students will be prepared to read, analyze and write about all types of texts at a higher level, whether they are fiction or non-fiction, when they graduate from high school.
2. Evidence from the text must be used in oral presentations or written papers.
- What this means: In all classes, students will be required to dig into different types of texts -- hard copy books and digital resources, fiction or non-fiction – and then use evidence to back up written and oral presentations they make in class.
- The benefit: Students will be better prepared to support their arguments and decisions with evidence, not just opinion.
3. Increased vocabulary across all grade levels.
- What this means: There will be a larger focus on vocabulary in all subject areas and at all grade levels.
- The benefit: In this digital age, students will continue to learn new vocabulary words as they progress through school and the correct context in which to use them.
4. Students will work more deeply in fewer topics.
- What this means: Teachers will cover fewer concepts in each grade level but go into more depth on each concept. This makes sure every student gains a full understanding before moving on to the next concept.
- The benefit: Less is more. Students will gain a full and foundational understanding of mathematics at all grade levels.
5. Students will understand why the math works and be asked to talk about and prove their understanding.
- What this means: Students will not just memorize formulas but will learn the foundations of mathematics.
- The benefit: Students will learn critical foundational concepts and problem-solving skills in the early grades so they are prepared for higher levels of math, such as algebra, once they reach the middle grades.
6. Students will be asked to use math in real-world situations.
- What this means: Students will not just memorize formulas or methods but will learn strategies for solving problems in real-world situations.
- The benefit: Students will gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills while in school that they can apply in postsecondary education and the workforce.