Kindergarten Common Core Standards – Printable Guides and Assessments

In panicing thinking about how to go about leading a nontypical exceptional child like Noah through homeschool kindergarten, I’ve been doing a little searching for age- and developmentally-appropriate skill lists and assessments.  As we travel along this journey with Noah, I’m finding I lose sight of the progress we’ve made because I’m always looking ahead to the progress we need to make.

I’m also finding myself on a daily basis thinking, “Now what?  What am I supposed to do next?”  Most people assume homeschoolers deal with this with all their children, but I haven’t run into this before for a few reasons:

I’ve never done formal kindergarten before. 

GASP! 

All of my children have started reading at age 3-4 and have learned all their kindergarten skills long before age 5.  And, no, I’m no Super-Mom with a method to sell you about how you too can have remarkably precocious and brilliant children.  In my house, they just happen.  It could be the hundreds of books that we have in nearly every room of the house that our children are free to look at (and do) any time they want.  Or it could be they see their older siblings doing school and they eagerly join in whenever they can.  Or it might be there’s so little DVD or video game time around here and we rarely seem to go out and do entertainment type things, there’s nothing left to do but learn.  Or it may be that the Lord knows I can only take so much of one-0n-one teaching every day, so he breathes knowledge into my little one’s brains as they sleep every night to make up for my failings.  I think it’s probably a combination of all these things, but mostly the last one.  The problem is, Noah is my exception to the rule.  He doesn’t absorb knowledge and skills simply by osmosis (at least not yet).  Down syndrome seems to short circuit the natural learning process, at least around here.  So what to do?  I need more structure for my little Boy Wonder,  just to keep us on track and make sure we’re not missing anything.

By the way, I’m not one to brag on my kids – okay, maybe just a little – agh, a lot, but yesterday Seth (2) let us in on a little secret.  Trinity asked him one by one what the letters on the fridge were, and he identified every stinkin one.  Then, last night at the pool, he looked up at the flags strung above the pool and said “triangle.”  Then, looking at the round life preserver on the wall and the round clock, I said, “Can you find a circle?”  He declined but then pointed to the diamond fencing covering one of the wall panels and said, “diamond.”  What kid at age 2-1/2 knows what a diamond is?  (Actually, I’m sure with some sit-down one-on-one time most 2-year-olds could learn to identify a diamond, but we’re not even working on diamonds with Noah or Bella yet.)  I’m wracking my brains trying to think of when in the world he would have been exposed to the word and shape diamond.  The only thing I can think is that maybe in one of the books he’s been read he’s seen and heard diamond.  But that would have been a one-time exposure because I know none of our favorite books have diamonds in them.

Alright, back on topic.  This blog has served as a journal of some of  Noah’s  progress, but I’m ready to have something compact as well, and I think I’ve found it.   Have you heard about Common Core Standards?  Oh, everybody is talking about them, and the public school system is obsessed with them. 

Just what are the Common Core Standards?  Here’s the answer from http://www.k12.wa.us/corestandards/ (the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of  Public Instruction).   Although this is a Washington State website, this explanation is the best I’ve seen; and although the timing of implementation may be different depending on your home state, the basic information is the same.  This site also has downloadable documents containing the actual standards by grade.  If you haven’t caught on yet, this is the system that will be replacing the standardized testing in the public schools. 

The Common Core State Standards describe the knowledge and skills in English Language Arts and Mathematics that students will need when they graduate, whatever their choice of college or career. These sets of standards define the knowledge and skills students should have to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards are based on the best national and international standards, giving our students a competitive advantage in the global economy. This state-led effort is coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Officially, this is not an attempt led by the Federal Government.  Instead it is an initiative led by the individual United States to come into agreement and create a consistent educational outline throughout the country.  I know, it sounds suspiciously like nationalized education, especially when you take into account all the Federal Government incentives that are going to be given to states participating in this along with the fact that all but four (Texas, Nebraska, Virginia and Alaska) of the 50 states have miraculously come into agreement to participate.   Those four states will suffer substantial losses of federal funds for refusing to allow the Federal Government or other states to dictate educational goals for their state’s children.  One thing I love about Texas is that we rarely go with the flow!

I won’t go into the great debate of whether the Common Core Standards are the best choice for our nation’s school children or not, but this is a great resource if you are interested in both sides of the story via educators like  Diane Ravitch, E.D. Hirsch, Jr., and Dan Willingham:

http://commoncore.org/p21.php

The truth is, at least for kindergarten, these standards offer a pretty good listing of skills every kindergartener should be working on and the order in which the skills should be taught.  The downside to these is that they are very skill focused rather than knowledge focused.  While you’ll find a listing of  skills like writing letters, using scissors, using parts of speech, reading and identifying parts of a book; common kindergarten themes like transportation, farm animals, weather and families are noticeably absent.  Especially for our children with cognitive and speech and language delays, as parents, whether our children are homeschooled or public or private schooled, we MUST make sure our children are also being taught the vocabulary and theme-based knowledge that these standards ignore.  A proficient and skilled kindergarten teacher will teach the core standards through a more traditional curriculum, but this will take time and effort on her part and a refusal to take the easy way out by teaching to the standards.  Most children can be taught to pass a test; brilliant children are taught how to apply the skills they have to the knowledge they possess, always adding to their fund of knowledge and skill subset through educational pursuits and life experience.  That starts with a knowledge base that begins in the early days of infancy and is nurtured through preschool, kindergarten, and into a lifetime of learning.  Skills without knowledge is of little value, and knowledge without the skills and opportunities to to apply it is, quite frankly, a waste of time.

Preschool file folder games, printables, activity books and websites are a great resource for identifying the language concepts important for language development, but I’ve yet to find a comprehensive list of just what those concepts are.  If you happen to have one, please feel free to post a link in my comments section, and if I love it, which I probably will, I’ll even post about it (or invite you to).  Otherwise, I just might have to make one on my own – gasp. 

Here’s some great kindergarten Common Core Standard assessments.  Many of them are in a checklist format with boxes to show progression from the first day and then in nine-week segments.  These are made for teachers but are so easy to follow, even a first-year homeschooler can use them.

Here is a  printable kindergarten Common Core Standard pacing guide.   This breaks each standard down into bite-sized pieces to be mastered within 9-week periods in an easy-to-read PDF printable format.

http://lilcountrykindergarten.blogspot.com/2011/07/yay-printable-lists-of-kdg-common-core.html

Here’s a link to a free very well-made and comprehensive math and reading assessment.  These printables are adorable and easy to follow, and did I mention they are ADORABLE?

http://www.thekinderpolkadotpatch.com/2012/03/assessment-anyone.html

Here is a kindergarten math assessment from www.teacherspayteachers.com, complete with not only the common core standards but also specific activities to use to test competency.   I rarely am willing to pay for printables because there is just so much available for free, but this printout was exactly what I needed, and nothing free was comparable.  $3.00 for an assessment so perfectly suited to my needs is definitely money well spent.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Common-Core-Math-Assessments-Kindergarten

This is from the same creator as the above math assessment, but this is the language arts common core assessment.  Again, not only are the standards listed, there are also specific activities and questions listed to aid you in your assessment of your child’s mastery of the standard.  These are very easy to read, understand and use – no expertise is needed. This download costs $4.00.  Again I’d say it is well worth it.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Common-Core-EnglishLanguage-Arts-AssessmentsKindergarten

The system Texas currently uses for educational standards is called the TEKS.  You can find downloadable standards by subject or grade here:  http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=6148

The TEKS offers much more in the way of a broad-based educational outline, and no matter what state you live in, they can be extremely helpful in providing some structure and accountability for your child’s educational pursuits.

How about you — whether you’re a speech therapist, teacher or mom (or all three), what assessments and skills lists help you in progressing through the early education years?

About these ads

5 thoughts on “Kindergarten Common Core Standards – Printable Guides and Assessments”

  1. Hello! I wanted to comment on a couple of the statements that you have in your blog concerning the CCSS. I noticed that it was written a while ago, but there are a couple things that are not really accurate. There have been so many rumors and myths regarding what is actually happening with the standards, It’s no wonder everyone is confused. (one of which is that all the public schools are crazy for it. that simply isn’t true – we always want to find new and better ways to teach. some times we come up with them and sometimes we are told what we have to do. the reason it may seem that we are crazy for it is because we have to do everything we can to learn about what they want us to teach and then make a plane to teach it to reach every learner.)

    You said, **”If you haven’t caught on yet, this is the system that will be replacing the standardized testing in the public schools.” *** First, the Common Core Standards are not and will not take the place of standardized testing. They are just standards – skills that need to be mastered by the end of the calender school year. They will be tested with standardized tests aligned with the standards themselves to test understanding of the skills. Also, there is a tremendous vocabulary built into all aspects of the common core. This is a web-site that may help clear up some of the myths – http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts/ … Also, standards and curriculum are not the same thing. I have been a Kindergarten teacher for ten years. I have participated in writing pre-k standards, attended both state and national level NAEYC conferences as well as state and national level kindergarten conference and now several training conference about the common core and singapore math. Don’t be taken in by what you hear. Home school teachers can attend workshops and conferences as well. They will send out excited and full of ideas. Also there are many free webinars on the sde website that are fabulous!

    There have always been standards – call them whatever you like. If you compare the Texas standards with the Common core, you will see most of the skills are the same with only few changes in order for teachers to have the time to teach the skills on the three levels(concrete, modeled drawing/application and abstract) to insure not only the rote memory of the skill, but understanding of why in order reach the higher order thinking skills that so many times are missed because of having “cover” so many skills. The curriculum is the means to meet the standards. This is a wonderful definition of both and how you must have both to be successful….

    ( also, you stated ***”While you’ll find a listing of skills like writing letters, using scissors, using parts of speech, reading and identifying parts of a book; common kindergarten themes like transportation, farm animals, weather and families are noticeably absent.”*** really, those are themes that teacher over the years early education teacher worked into their curriculum to meet science and social studies standards and a way to use a theme that young children are interested in to get them excited about writing and reading and even using the themes to keep math exciting. An example would be that Kindergarten children have life-cycles as a science standard. Teacher may choose to use a farm theme and hatch chicks, then they would read fiction and non-fiction books, write about the topic, use plastic eggs as math manipulatives, etc, or they may teach the life cycle of butterflies, plants, lady bug, and on and on…. We were not actually told we had to teach about a farm – that just worked for a standard. Same with transportation – works with social studies standards concerning community….)

    ***The number one question raised by parents and community members alike when it comes to Common Core is: What is the difference between standards and curriculum?

    Standards are expectations. For instance, we expect students to know that 2+2=4, and why. Curriculum is the program created by local school districts to teach students to learn that 2+2 =4, and why.

    Standards are statements. Curriculum includes many resources: activities, lessons, units, assessments, and can include publisher textbooks.

    Standards define what is to be learned by the end of a school year. Curriculum is the detailed plan for day to day teaching.

    In education terms, decisions about standards are made at the state level, defining for teachers, school leaders and parents what students are expected to know by the end of the year. Curriculum decisions, including which textbook and programs to use, are made by local districts. Instructional decisions regarding student progress throughout the year are made in the classroom.

    Standards are the end. Curriculum is the means.

    Want to learn more about Common Core State Standards? Visit the Foundation for Excellence in Education. But, don’t just take our word for it. Take a moment to read the actual standards at http://www.corestandards.org.

    - See more at: http://excelined.org/2013/06/common-core-fact-of-the-day-standards-v-curriculum/#sthash.1WnpIZor.dpuf ****

    Here is another: Editor’s note: This is the second post in a five-part series which takes a look at five big ideas for implementation of the Common Core State Standards, authored by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins

    The Introduction to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics makes a noteworthy point: “These Standards do not dictate curriculum or teaching methods.” (p 5). A similar point is offered by the ELA Standards:

    “The Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach. For instance, the use of play with young children is not specified by the Standards, but it is welcome as a valuable activity in its own right and as a way to help students meet the expectations in this document… The Standards must therefore be complemented by a well-developed, content-rich curriculum consistent with the expectations laid out in this document.” (p. 6)
    Indeed, these statements highlight the intent of any set of standards; i.e., they focus on outcomes, not curriculum or instruction. The implication is clear — educators must translate the CCSS into an engaging and effective curriculum. So, what is the relationship between the Standards and curriculum? Consider another analogy with home building and renovation: The standards are like the building code. Architects and builders must attend to them but they are not the purpose of the design. The house to be built or renovated is designed to meet the needs of the client in a functional and pleasing manner — while also meeting the building code along the way.

    Similarly, while curriculum and instruction must address established standards, we always want to keep the long-term educational ends in mind — the development of important capabilities in the learner. In other words, a curriculum works with the CCSS to frame optimal learning experiences. To shift analogies, these standards are more like the ingredients in a recipe than the final meal; they are more like the rules of the game instead of strategy for succeeding at the game.

    So then, what is a curriculum? In research for our book, Understanding by Design (Wiggins and McTighe, 1997), we uncovered 83 different definitions or connotations for the word, curriculum, in the educational literature! Such a variety of meanings confer an unhelpful ambiguity on the challenge of moving from standards to curriculum. Worse, most definitions focus on inputs, not outputs — what will be “covered” rather than a plan for what learners should be able to accomplish with learned content. This is a core misunderstanding in our field. Marching through a list of topics or skills cannot be a “guaranteed and viable” way to ever yield the sophisticated outcomes that the CCSS envision.

    The ELA Standards make this point clearly by framing everything around “anchor standards,” all of which highlight complex abilities and performances that students should master for college and workplace readiness. The Mathematics Standards’ emphasis on the need to weave the Content and Practice Standards together in a curriculum makes the same point.

    I hope your Kindergarten year with your beautiful boy was everything that I believe Kindergarten should be – an amazing year of learning and growth that instill a love learning for life. In all the years I have been teaching plus the years I spent visiting and helping in my mom’s classroom (she was a pre-k special need teacher/speech pathoolgist for 34 years with a Master’s plus 30 in early childhood and special ed), I have come to learn that there is always a new direction the pendulum of education will swing and then eventually go back the other way calling the same skills by new and updated names.
    the truth that you don’t hear on the news or read online is that teachers know and implement to the best of their abilities, a differentiated curriculum to try to find the best way a student learns and teach lessons to reach all the different learning styles. Even if the trend states to only teach one way. Teachers do what they are told but add in what is necessary to meet the needs of the class they have each year (which means there is no way to teach the same way every year because your children are different every year). The Common Core will not change that either.
    God Bless…

    P.S. I have taught in both public and private schools at both the Kindergarten and Pre-K level….

  2. Thanks so much for contributing to this discussion! Your suggestion to attend conferences and conventions is a very good one! I have attended two state speech therapy conventions and really enjoy getting an insider’s view. When I wrote this article, I wrote from the viewpoint of how the focus of the testing was changing. Unfortunately, many public school teachers “teach to the test.” So rather than standardized testing revealing how much a child has grasped during the year, it reveals how well the child was prepared for the test. When you change the test in that kind of setting, you change the content of what is taught, and in this case I think that would be a negative change. I’m not a public school teacher, but I think the pressure to teach to the test would be enormous. In any case, I don’t know a single public school teacher ( or private) who has a whole lot of breathing room in their school day, hence my concern over changing objectives and dropping material out of the standards and tests that I think are important. Would a good teacher try to find time to teach it anyway? Sure. Will it be pushed back in level of importance? Yes. It seems to me that the whole purpose of these educational standards is to get everyone on the same page as far as what needs to be taught in the classroom. To say that a good teacher will fill in the gaps where the standards are weak or non-existent is not the point. My point is that we need the standards to be strong enough in the first place that they don’t leave teachers having to scramble to fill gaps.

    You sound very knowledgable on this issue and I appreciate you taking the time to clarify things.

    Blessings,
    Alyson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s