New academic standards prompt homework change - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

New academic standards prompt homework change

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Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at Contact her at

Michelle Reese covered education for the Tribune, also blogging about motherhood and family issues at

Posted: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 7:54 am | Updated: 3:34 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

Reading, writing and math facts are becoming part of the routine in the Reese household each night as my older children sit down to do their homework.

With the state’s adoption of the national Common Core Standards, that routine may be taking place across Arizona, said Ildiko Laczko-Kerr, vice president of academics for the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

Laczko-Kerr, a mom herself, told me this week, “you’re definitely not alone.”

In 2010, Arizona adopted the Common Core state standards – a document to help states across the country meet the same academic goals for math and English language arts. The impact on homework will vary, Laczko-Kerr said, depending on what stage your child’s school is at in putting the standards into practice.

In fall 2011, the program was put into place for kindergartners. Additional grades were added this fall, with all public school students scheduled to fall under the standards by fall 2013.

A lot more effort will be put on writing and math fluency, she said. That may translate into additional writing assignments at home, as well as math.

“An important thing for parents to ask the teacher is how they are implementing Common Core and at what grade level,” she said.

The writing component is evident for both my children.

My second grader never before had to write sentences at home – and now she’s writing a paragraph each week based on a story the students read at school. And each week, when I volunteer in my son’s fourth-grade classroom, I see how much writing they’re doing. Last week was a narrative story. The prior week, students wrote an explanatory piece.

The homework, “is asking students to apply what they’re learning in real life context and settings,” Laczko-Kerr said.

If students are coming home with worksheets and lower-level activities, they may or may not be under the new Common Core standards, she said.

“The idea of homework is they should be practicing the skills they’re learning at school. Depending on the school, it could be more fluency and repetition so they get faster at both reading comprehension and math concepts,” she said.

But no matter the type of homework, if it’s taking your child longer than the teacher suggests, it may be time to have a talk.

“Maybe the teacher designed the assignment thinking it would take 10 to 15 minutes, but your personal child may be taking 40 minutes,” she said. “Email the teacher and ask, ‘How long should this take?’”

That’s just what my children’s teachers told me during curriculum night.

Both my children’s teachers gave us a rough idea of how long homework should take. And both said that if it’s taking a great deal longer, parents should let them know so adjustments can be made or additional help may be offered.

So far, it’s falling right in line with what they said. But when I found we couldn’t focus at home, we found a new place to do homework.

In case you’re looking for us, we’re hanging out in the study room at our public library.

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