What are the Common Core State Standards?

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You may have heard the phrase Common Core in regards to your school district’s curriculum. Here are the basics that are relevant to parents of children in American public and many private schools.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of educational expectations for all American students to meet at each grade level (K-12). Before the CCSS, educational curriculum was left up to each state, so standards varied from state to state. Now, 46 states are implementing the CCSS. They are goals for learning that are commensurate with other top-performing nations and focus instruction on the skills and content predicted to prepare students for college and career. The subjects included are English Language Arts and Mathematics and focus on understanding more than memorization. They are  designed to be clear and concise so that teachers, parents, and students know what is expected.

Ideally, the CCSS will foster equity in the level of core instruction every student receives regardless of where he or she lives. In addition, it should enable collaboration between states on tools and policies (e.g., textbooks, assessment systems, teacher training).

Critics assert that the CCSS imposes too much federal governmental control over education. However, the CCSS were not developed by the federal government.  “States across the country collaborated with teachers, researchers, and leading experts to design and develop the CCSS.” –corestandards.org

Another criticism of the CCSS is that it will perpetuate the high stakes testing movement and teachers being compelled to “teach to the test.” Currently, data collection is not required in order to implement the CCSS. Assessment is left up to the state. However, assessments based on the CCSS are being developed and will be available for the 2014-15 school year. In the meantime, schools will continue to administer state assessments as they begin to implement the CCSS.

The National PTA has posted a Parents’ Guide to Student Success with grade-specific information, activities, and tips.

Do you think the Common Core State Standards initiative is good for education in America? What are your thoughts on how it will affect your kids?

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