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Frequently Asked Questions

Is this the new national curriculum I've been hearing about?

No, the Common Core is not a curriculum. The new standards do not tell our teachers what or how to teach; they simply outline the skills that all students should master. WCPS teachers have worked with our central office to write our own curriculum, using Common Core standards as a guide.


But it's still a federal program, right?

The Common Core effort was launched through a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association working together with parents, teachers, school administrators and educators from across the country. The federal government was not involved in writing these standards.


How will this affect my child?

When standards are fully implemented next year, you’ll see that each grade covers fewer topics, but teaches content in much greater depth. The order in which our students tackle some concepts in math will be different. Students will be reading and writing for information in their English/language arts class, in addition to reading and writing about literature. This focus on reading and writing for information will extend beyond their English classes.


What about those who receive special education services? Or who are still learning English?

WCPS still makes its own decisions on how to support special education students and English Language Learners with the new standards, and your student will still see the same robust effort to ensure a quality education. 


What about science, social studies and other subjects?

The standards only address language arts and mathematics. You will notice that the new reading and writing standards for language arts apply to science and social studies as well. A state-led process similar to the one used to develop Common Core is underway to write standards for science and social studies, and parents can expect to see similar reforms in those subjects.


Isn't the Common Core just for students who are bound for college?

The goal of the Common Core is to do more to make sure all students are college and career ready after high school graduation. WCPS has a strong history of preparing students who want to enter the workforce directly after high school, through the Career Technology Education program, Washington County Technical High School and our other career programs.  In addition to career-specific training, the Common Core will ensure that students have the academic background to continue their education in their chosen field over their lifetime.


How will this affect the tests my child takes?

A new assessment is under development that’s aligned with the Common Core standards. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (often called PARCC) assessments are computer-based, nationally developed tests, and will replace the Maryland School Assessments in Math and English Language Arts in 2014-2015. Science MSA will continue to be required after 2014-2015.