As many have felt the United States needs academic reform a group was formed, led by states and state-level groups/organizations, primarily the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The CCSS were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts with the goal of unifying state educational standards in English language arts and math across the board—a major shift away from the current model of each state setting its own standards.
The goal of the standards is to improve the quality of education and for students to be better prepared college and career.
“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”
The rationale behind the Common Core Standards is to improve public education in grades K–12 by raising standards and create the consistency from state to state. No matter where a student lives, as long as he attends public school, he/she will be taught using the same high standards.
The group studied curricula in the highest performing states and successful foreign countries and developed the standards to mirror them. They are evidence-based, realistic, and practical.
Common Core Standards have only been developed for English/language arts and math. Each state will continue to set their own standards for the remaining academic subjects. 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Each state determines when implementation will begin.
Common Core Standards are different than curriculum. The standards describe benchmarks which tell parents and educators what the student should know and be able to do. They are broken down grade by grade. Curriculum tells educators how to teach the subject matter. Curriculum is still determined by individual states and school districts.
Some states have decided against using the Common Core Standards. Alaska, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Virginia did not adopt Common Core Standard. Minnesota has adopted Common Core Standards for English/language arts but not for math. Some reasons for not adopting the Common Core Standards include the expense of buying new instructional and assessment materials, the expense of training teachers to correctly follow the standards and possible disruption in educational practices and services.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the implementation of the Common Core Standards including :
- What type of training will be provided? How in –depth will that training be?
- Will that training be for general education teachers only or will special education teachers be included?
- Which materials will be changed? How might response to intervention be changed due to the standards?
These are just a few of the many questions which must be answered before the Common Core standards can be successfully implemented.