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New Standards, New Homework Concerns

Nicole Atwater is like many working moms.  A typical night looks like this, spending time with her two sons.

These days, there is even more time spent working with Gabriel, tackling his homework.

"It's homework all night long. It's very frustrating, He doesn't get to be a kid anymore," said Atwater

She says her third grader Nathan's homework is manageable.  Gabriel's is another story.

The fifth grader is a special needs student.  He had straight A's in math last year.  This year, Atwater says Gabriel is struggling to meet the new state standards under the Common Core Curriculum.

"He gets extra time to do things but that doesn't translate to homework because he gets the same amount as everyone which is completely fine. But for him what might take a normal child a half-hour, might take an him an hour," said Atwater.

A of last school year, New York's elementary and middle school students began learning Common Core Curriculum in both English language arts and math.

State education leaders say these standards will help kids become critical thinkers and be better prepared for college and the workforce.

Rachelle Frost is the mother of two Whitney Point students.  She likes the idea behind Common Core but doesn't like how it was implemented.

Frost says she doesn't think her fourth grader Cole's high  functioning autism is playing a role in his struggles.  She says even she is confused by the work her second graders is bringing home.

"The actual math that they need to do isn't so much complicated or confusing.  It's just they don't understand the methods they need to use to solve it," said Frost.

Third grade teacher Michaela Clark says she understands parents frustrations and points to how some of the questions are worded.

"I've had quite a few questions about what exactly are they asking you to do, because a lot of it it is not just finding the answer.  There are certain strategies that the homework or curriculum are asking students to do to find those answers which will help them in the long run if they can understand those strategies," said Clark.

BOCES district officials recommend parents visit the EngageNY.org  which provides links to resources for teachers and parents.

Rachel and Nicole say they've spent time on that website but anticipate there will be many long nights of homework ahead.

"It's another full time job to go online,  learn what they're learning and then be able to help them," said Atwater.

"A website full of information O already don't understand doesn't really help me," said Frost.

On Monday, November 25th at 2 pm, WSKG will host a discussion on Common Core standards with New York State Education Commissioner John King. Audience members will be allowed to ask questions.  There will be a rebroadcast of the forum the following night at 9 pm. 

You can register to attend the forum online at wskg.org/forum.  Registration closes on Monday the 18th.



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