It seems as if the summer is flying by!  Here at OPA, many teachers are already back in their classrooms, getting things set for the start of the new year.  We have also been working throughout the summer with students to maintain skills in basic reading and math, and watching the students attending the YMCA during the summer learn, grow and have fun.  We are going to start the year strong! 

As we enter the new school year, I often get questions from parents regarding the Utah State Standards and what parents can do to help their kids at home.  I wanted to address some of these questions briefly, and add some information from other sources.  Of course, anyone with questions can still feel free to contact me!

Utah State Core Standards:

The state standards, set by the State of Utah’s Board of Education, explicitly outline the skills and knowledge all students in Utah are expected to learn, not just in reading and math, but in science, fine arts, health, and many other areas.  These standards are linked to the Common Core standards many states are using, but were not defined by the federal government.  This link to the Common Core allows students to move more easily between states without missing knowledge or repeating skills they have already mastered.  

Students with learning and attention issues are not exempt from these standards.  Like their peers, they are required to demonstrate mastery of certain skills and knowledge sets in each grade.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires all students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to have access to the general education curriculum.  While these students may receive accommodations in the classroom, they are taught the same skills as their grade-level peers.  Even those students with severe intellectual impairments access the Core through adapted standards in mathematics and Language Arts.  

Helping your kids at home and at school:

Much of the work that you see being sent home may seem unusual to you. It requires students to demonstrate knowledge of skills which you may not have been exposed to when you were in school.  Don’t panic! There are resources which can help you understand! 

  • Khan Academy– The Khan Academy’s website has thousands of short videos demonstrating skills as well as practice problems with immediate feedback to help your child develop the skills needed in today’s classrooms. 
  • Hunt Institute’s YouTube channel has a wide variety of short videos explaining the common core. 
  •’s parent site, focused on helping parents help their kids

In addition, reaching out to your students teacher has tremendous benefits not only for your student, but for his or her teacher.  You know your child best, and have the ability to discuss your student’s strengths and what works best.  Often, students who struggle in school have a hard time seeing that they have any strengths, and with class sizes at nearly 30 students, teachers may not have the time or focus to explore strengths with each student individually.  Having a frank conversation with your child’s teacher can make all the difference in the classroom, and help the teacher understand how to better help your child succeed.  

For more information, or to contact your student’s special educator, please check out the OPA SPED site’s static page, and visit



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