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ELK GROVE, CA - As kids start heading back to school, parents can expect some major changes in the curriculum like essays in math class.

It's all part of the new Common Core State Standards curriculum that California school districts are adopting for the foreseeable future.

"We do a lot more talking to our partners, and they show it to us in a different way, so if we learned it last year, they're going to teach us another way to do it," fourth grade student Landyn Batson said.

At Elk Grove's David Reese Elementary School, a year-round school, 4 th graders in Lindsey Lilley's class don't just have to get the right answer, they have to explain how they got the answer.

"They're getting better at working with their partner," Lilley said. "They know that they can't just luck out and get the answer, so it really challenges their thinking."

"When I was in 3rd grade, we didn't have partners. I didn't know how to explain it to myself, so now I can explain it to my partner, and it's more easier than complicated," 4th grade student Lailani Cardenas explained.

That's exactly how educators behind the new Common Core State Standards curriculum hope students will respond. The new system has been adopted gradually, with 3rd through 6th grade math students getting their first exposure to the cirriculum this year.

"As a student articulates his or her reasoning, they kind of self correct errors in reasoning that previously might have led to miscalculations," Elk Grove United Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning Dr. Anne Zeman said.

And that's really the key with the curriculum, identifying multiple approaches can give students an early sense of confidence at problem solving.

"As they do this work in 4th grade and they draw things out when numbers are relatively simple, that's helping their onramp to be able to do well in algebra," Zeman said.

Check out what type of questions students are expected to answer in the new curriculum here:

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