Helping Your Students' Parents Understand the Common Core Math Standards

Posted by Ryan Hack on Oct 24, 2013 11:40:00 AM

If your state adopted the Common Core math standards, you are most likely presented with a whole new challenge: explaining to parents what changes the new standards present to their student’s curriculum and learning path

Screen_Shot_2013-10-24_at_9.18.03_AMIn fact, a recent PDK/Gallup Poll found that 62 percent of parents have never even heard of the Common Core State Standards. That statistic only cements the uphill climb of helping students and parents understand the "what and why" of these new math standards.

To help conquer this climb, we put together a quick set of resources and tips to help you give your students' parents sound advice and answers to any questions and concerns they may have about the Common Core math standards.

The CCSS basics for parents (and students)

The general questions and concerns you’ll hear from your students and their parents usually revolve around three points: what are these Math Standards, what changed, and what does this change mean for my students?

First off, what are the Common Core math standards?

In a very general sense, the Common Core math standards cover three main points:

  1. The mathematics concepts students need to understand
  2. The math practices students should be able to do
  3. The means to which educators assess/measure student comprehension of math

To begin answering parent questions and concerns, it's first important to understand that the new math standards are not a curriculum. The instead offer a framework of the math content and practices should acquire to become "college and career ready" by the time the graduate high school. It's also important to convey the fact that many of these concepts are nothing new, but will most likely be more rigorous than the previously-used state standards.

In fact, according to Education Week, a survey of 403 middle school math teachers revealed that 86 percent felt they were "moderately or extensively familiar" with the CCSS math standards, but 87 percent of the teachers also felt that the math standards provided more "rigor" than their prior standards. 

Tips for increasing understanding (and success) with the new math standards

So, how do you help your students' parents understand your state and school's move to the Common Core math standards? What are some resources that you and parents can use to help your students practice their math skills in preparation for the Common Core Math assessments? Consider the following overview of tips and resources below to build your CCSS knowledge base!

Know the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice

There are eight Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematical Practice. Here are some examples of three Math Practices you might use to help parents understand these math practices as they relate to different age groups.

  • MP1 - Making sense of problems/finding solutions: Younger students may figure how many classmates fit around a table; older students might divide total cell phone minutes by minutes used to calculate minutes left.
  • MP4 - Applying math to everyday life: Younger students may share snacks to ensure each person gets one; older students might calculate how much money they need for a set amount of gallons of gas.
  • MP5 - Using appropriate tools: Younger students might use calculators during shopping trips; older students might use math software to help with homework.

Now, it's important to convey with parents that the math standards and the standards of mathematical practice are two different things. They obviously work together with one another to enhance student learning, but there is a distinct difference between the two. 

Think of it this way: the standards serve as specific concepts students must learn, and the practices serve as specific general skills students should obtain and apply to the concepts as the progress.

When conveying the difference (and value of the combining the two elements), ensure that you explain to the parent(s) that the students are not held to two different standards sets. Instead, the standards and mathematical practices work hand-in-hand to help students develop the needed math skills.

5 tips to aid parental CCSS math understanding

The T.H.E. Journal recently put together a list of five tips you can use to help your students' parents understand the Common Core math standards:

(1) Listen: Let your students' parents talk and ask questions; listen to their concerns.

(2) Explain: Help parents understand the benefits of improved math skills.

(3) Give information/share data: Discuss student progress and share achievement data.

(4) Share comparative national data: Show parents how their students compare to national averages.

(5) Share sample questions: Show parents sample assessment questions to aid their understanding on what their students need to know.

Additional Common Core math standards resources and links

You can find more valuable information on the CCSS math standards at these great links:


More free CCSS math resources from the Wowzers Team!

CCSS Content eBooklet download link


Topics: Common Core Content

Wowzers is a comprehensive online math program covering all Common Core State Standards for grades K-8. The research-based program adapts to each learner and allows for an individualized path through the curriculum. Content is presented in multiple ways, and appeals to tactile, auditory, and visual learners. Assessments mirror those found on high-stakes achievement tests and provide teachers and administrators with the information that they need to personalize learning for each student.

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