Common Core Standards and Youth in Foster Care


President Barack Obama is sounding the alarm for education reform and the necessity for an increase in college educated citizens to continue to complete on a global scale.  Have you heard the urgent appeals for more students majoring in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)?  Pearson education firm ranks The United States 17th in the developed world for education in a global report.  The business/professional world is also demanding a workforce graduating from school better prepared for global competition.   Where do we go from here?


Education is supposed to be “the great equalizer”, the “key to success”, and the “door to opportunity”.  Multiple school transfers and missing academic records are an unfortunate reality for many youth in care.  These youth often find themselves below grade level in their skills, or over medicated, or lacking academic guidance and support, or simply unable to concentrate in school.  They find themselves behind the starting line when other young people have been given a head start.  How do we level the playing field when standardized testing is given more and more credibility and training beyond high school is essential to long-term economic self-sufficiency?


The academic stakes are getting higher and one thing that I recommend is that every foster parent, child welfare worker, case manager, youth worker, and mentor research and understand the Common Core Standards.  The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt.  It is believed that these standards will help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning.  Their purpose is also to ensure that young people graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and/or the modern workforce. 


Familiarize yourself because these standards will be around for a while.  According to the Common Core Standards Initiative website, “The nation’s governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers, parents, school administrators and experts from across the country together with state leaders provided input into the development of the standards.  Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four US territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards.” 


Just like The Teen Toolbox Packaged For Success™ Youth Portfolio Development Seminar, all life skills workshops, trainings, and programs offered to youth in care should align with the Common Core Standards and stress four 21st century skills – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity/innovation.  All life skills preparation should embrace these Common Core Standard categories:

– Life and Career Skills

– Flexibility and Adaptability

– Initiative and Self-Direction

– Social and Cross-Cultural Skills

– Productivity and Accountability

– Leadership and Responsibility


Stay tuned to The Teen Toolbox blog for more on the Common Core Standards and helping youth in foster care make a smoother transition into adulthood and  self-sufficiency.


You might also want to read: Why Should I Stay In School?




Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer

The Teen Toolbox utilizes youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.  We are committed to supporting and raising awareness about the needs and potential of teenagers in the foster care system.


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