Common Core Communication Network: Facts as Talking Points

Educational standards are clear goals for student learning. They are important because they help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, both in the next grade level and in life. Their creation was led by the National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and 48 states and D.C. participated in the process. Today 46 states have signed on to CCSS.

Educational standards are necessary because:

  • Standards ensure all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in college and the workforce.
  • Common standards help ensure that students receive a quality education in any school or state they attend.
  • Common standards provide educators more opportunities to share experiences and best practices that best serve the needs of students.

Standards do NOT tell teachers what or how to teach. Standards help teachers focus on the knowledge and skills their students should have at the appropriate education level. With these clear targets, teachers can build the best lessons and environments for their classrooms.

Standards help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success. Standards are a first step – a key building block – in providing young people with a high-quality education that prepares them for success in today’s college and work settings.

Students need a more rigorous education. Across the board, expectations have risen for the academic skills and knowledge students must possess to enter, and succeed in, college and careers. Simultaneously, the U. S. education system has essentially remained unchanged, leaving students unprepared for the global economy they will enter once they graduate. CCSS will ensure students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college and career.

The standards provide more clarity and consistency in what is expected of students.

Until now, every state has had its own set of academic standards, meaning public education students at the same grade level in different states have been expected to achieve at different levels. The Common Core State Standards Initiative allows states to share information effectively and helps provide all students with an equal opportunity for an education that will prepare them to go to college or enter the workforce, regardless of where they live.

Each state has its own process for developing, adopting, and implementing standards. As a result, what students are expected to learn can vary widely from state to state. (Include an example of your state’s Common Core expectations.)

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a states-led effort to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English-language arts and mathematics. States can voluntarily choose to adopt these common standards.

The standards were designed by a diverse group of teachers, experts, parents, and school administrators, so they reflect both our aspirations for our children and the realities of the classroom. These standards are meant to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce. With the standards, parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of what is expected in school. The standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that U.S. students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace.

High education standards, consistent across states, provide teachers, parents, and students with clear expectations. Everyone committed to student success can work together on these outcomes. The goal of Common Core State Standards is for every student to be well-prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete not only with their peers here at home, but with students from around the world. This will ensure that America’s competitive edge is maintained in a global economy.

Standards cannot single-handedly improve the quality of our nation’s education system, but they do give educators shared goals and expectations for their students.

For example, the Common Core State Standards will enable participating states to work together to:

  • Make expectations for students clear to parents, teachers, and the general public;
  • Encourage the development of textbooks, digital media, and other teaching materials aligned to the standards;
  • Develop and implement comprehensive assessment systems to measure student performance against the Common Core State Standards that will replace the existing testing systems that too often are inconsistent, burdensome and confusing; and
  • Evaluate policy changes needed to help students and educators meet the standards.

America’s ability to grow and prosper is dependent on our ability to educate all students to reach their – and our country’s – full potential.

The Common Core State Standards are part of a state-led professional effort to give all students - no matter where they attend school - the skills and knowledge needed to succeed. The federal government was not involved in the development of the standards. Individual states chose whether or not to adopt these standards. The federal government was not a participant by specific design.

Parents, teachers, school administrators and experts from across the country, together with state leaders through membership in the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), are leading the effort to develop a Common Core of State Standards.

There has been tremendous public input into these standards. The CCSSO and the NGA Center alone have received over 10,000 comments.

The process of state standards adoption depends on the laws of each state. Some states are adopting the standards through their state boards of education, while others are adopting them through their state legislatures.

(NOTE: Describe how your state will adopt, or if they have adopted the standards, here.)

Local teachers, principals, superintendents and other experts on education will decide how the standards are to be implemented. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms. Local teachers, principals, superintendents, and school boards will continue to make decisions about curriculum and how their school systems are operated.

Teachers have been a critical voice in the development of the standards. The National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), among other organizations have been instrumental in bringing together teachers to provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards.

The Common Core State Standards have been built from the best and highest state standards in the country.

  • They are evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills, and are informed by other top- performing countries.
  • They were developed in consultation with teachers and parents from across the country, so they are also realistic and practical for the classroom.
  • These standards are designed to ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, are learning what they need to know to graduate from high school ready for college or a career.

The goal of CCSS is not to have more tests, but to have smarter and better tests that help students, parents, and teachers.

This process is different from other efforts to create common standards because it is state-led, and has the support of educators across the country as well as prominent education, business, and state leaders’ organizations, including CCSSO, the NGA Center, Achieve, Inc, ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Hunt Institute, the National Parent Teacher Association, the State Higher Education Executive Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the Business Roundtable.

 These are NOT national standards. The federal government was NOT involved in the development of the standards.

  • This has been a state-led and state-driven initiative from the beginning.
  • States have voluntarily adopted the standards based on the timelines and context in their state.

The standards were developed using the following criteria

  1. Standards are aligned with expectations for college and career success.
  2. Standards are to be clear, so that educators and parents know what they need to do to help students learn.
  3. Standards are consistent across all states, so that students are not taught to a lower standard just because of where they live.
  4. Standards include both content and the application of knowledge through high-order skills.
  5. Standards build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards and standards of top-performing nations.
  6. Standards are realistic; they are designed for effective use in the classroom.
  7. Standards are informed by other top-performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society.

Evidence and research-based criteria have been set by states, through their national organizations CCSSO and the NGA Center.

The Common Core State Standards in English-language arts and math standards are for grades K-12. Research from the early childhood and higher education communities have also informed the development of the standards.

Common standards will provide a greater opportunity for states to share experiences and best practices within and across states that can lead to an improved ability to serve young people with disabilities and English language learners.

Additionally, the K-12 English-language arts and mathematics standards include information on application of the standards for English language learners and students with disabilities.

 The math standards are a breakthrough in focus and coherence. The math standards articulate a progression of leaning that deepens a student’s ability to understand and use mathematics. The math standards concentrate on core conceptual understandings and procedures starting in the early grades, enabling teachers to take the time needed to teach core concepts and procedures well – and to give the students the opportunity to really master them.

The English-language arts standards articulate a clear progression of learning from kindergarten to 12th grade. They illustrate a vision for student literacy across subject areas that applies to reading, writing speaking and listening. This breakthrough resource is designed to help teacher better understand how instructional efforts at each grade level contribute to college and career readiness.

English-language arts and math were the first subjects chosen for the Common Core State Standards because these two subjects are skills upon which students build skill sets in other subject areas. They are also the subjects most frequently assessed for accountability purposes. Of course, other subject areas are critical to young people’s education and their success in college and careers. However, the NGA Center and CCSSO will not be developing standards in other subjects and are now focusing on implementing the standards in English-language arts and mathematics.

Both content and skills are important and have been incorporated in the Common Core State Standards. One of the criteria by which the standards will be evaluated is whether or not they include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order thinking skills.

 The CCSS are not a curriculum.

Standards are statements of the knowledge and skills that students need to master in order to be prepared for college and/or the workforce.

Curriculum is the roadmap that teachers use to help young people acquire and master those skills. Depending upon the individual needs and learning styles of their students, teachers develop instructional strategies and techniques to navigate the roadmap.

Common standards champion multiple approaches to learning. Students will see consistent exposure to materials and content as they encounter a wide variety of learning experiences through curriculum, instruction, and teacher preparation. Teachers have tremendous freedom to teach to the learning styles of individual students.

The impact on teachers will be mixed. Many teachers are already using best practices to achieve clearly defined outcomes. The standards will:

  • provide important goals for teachers to ensure they are preparing students for success in college and the workforce.
  • help teachers develop and implement effective strategies for their students by providing benchmarks for skills and knowledge that their students should have by the end of the year.
  • help colleges and professional development programs to better prepare teachers and provide opportunity for teachers to be involved in the development of assessments linked to these top-quality standards.
  • allow states to develop and provide better assessments that more accurately measure whether or not students have learned what was taught.
  • guide educators toward curricula and teaching strategies that will give students a deep understanding of the subject and the skills they need to apply their knowledge.

 There will be an ongoing state-led development process that can support continuous improvement of the standards.

Assessment processes will be up to the states. Some states plan to come together voluntarily to develop a common assessment system, based on common core state standards. A state-led consortium on assessment would be grounded in the following principles: allow for comparison across students, schools, districts, states and nations; create economies of scale; provide information and support more effective teaching and learning; and prepare students for college and careers.

CCSSO and NGA Center be playing a role in the implementation process. NGA Center and CCSSO are committed to assisting state policymakers in the following ways:

  • Developing a State Policymaker Guide to Implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which will provide state policymakers with the key areas that require attention and work as states transition to the standards;
  • Convening organizations to facilitate conversations about the standards’ implementation so states, districts and teachers have the tools they need and providing opportunities for groups with similar activities to collaborate;
  • Planning and implementing the future governance structure of the Common Core State Standards Initiative; and
  • Convening the publishing community to ensure that high quality materials aligned with the standards are created.

The federal government has had no role in the development of the Common Core State Standards and will not have a role in their implementation. For those states that have adopted the Common Core, the federal government can:

  • Support this effort through a range of tiered incentives, such as providing states with greater flexibility in the use of existing federal funds, supporting a revised state accountability structure, and offering financial support for states to implement the standards.
  • Provide long-term financial support for the development and implementation of common assessments, teacher and principal professional development, and research to help continually improve the common core state standards over time.
  • Revise and align existing federal education laws with the lessons learned from the best of what works in other nations, and from further research.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was and will remain a state-led effort. In addition to supporting effective implementation of the Common Core, NGA and CCSSO are committed to developing a long-term governance structure with leadership from governors, chief state school officers, and other state policymakers.