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Glossary of education terms

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Glossary of education terms

Common Core or Common Core State Standards Initiative is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. These benchmarks were developed by a working group assembled by the National Governors Association in 2008. Common Core standards have drawn attention since their creation in 2009 among groups concerned about the impact of standardized testing on academic achievement.


Common Core standards can be traced back to the work done by former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano in 2007. She pursued a standard framework for evaluating student progress during her time as the chair of the National Governors Association (NGA). Napolitano tasked the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices with converting her ideas on education into standards. This group worked with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve Inc. on a report published in December 2008.[1] This report noted that state education officials needed a "common core" of academic standards to ensure competitiveness in the global market. The NGA later convened a conference of educators and stakeholders with experience in curriculum design, assessment and education of all levels to codify these standards.[2]

The creation of Common Core represented a broad effort with participation from a combined 51 states and American territories. The standards were originally divided into college and career readiness standards and K-12 standards. These standards were eventually merged before public comments were requested in September 2009 and March 2010.[3][4] The standards received nearly 10,000 comments that shaped the final set of standards issued in June 2010.[5]


Common Core logo.jpg

The initiative outlines standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics that stress literacy and college or career readiness no later than the end of high school. The ELA standards feature five essential components:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening
  • Language and media and technology
  • Keyboarding

States can choose to adopt cursive as an optional English Language Arts standard. Seven states that opted-in to the sixth standard are California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Utah.[6] The Mathematics standards mandate the teaching of eight specific principles:[7]

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  • Model with mathematics
  • Use appropriate tools strategically
  • Attend to precision
  • Look for and make use of structure
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

These standards also define the content that should be taught at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The standards for kindergarten through sixth grade include operations and algebraic thinking, numbers and operations in base 10, measurement and data and geometry. In grades six through eight, students are to learn the number system, expressions and equations, geometry and statistics and probability. The six conceptual categories for high school students to understand are number and quantity, algebra, functions, modeling, geometry and statistics and probability.[8]

The developers of Common Core are building a universal computer-based assessment that is expected to be ready for implementation in the 2014-15 school year. As of March 2014, the 26-state Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consortium and the 31-state Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium are working to develop this online assessment.[9][10]



Implementation of Common Core standards takes place at the state level as encouraged by the NGA's 2008 report. The report notes that "because benchmarking is also-and most critically-about improving policy, states must take the lead."[1] This state-level focus arose because state education officials already possess authority over assessments, curriculum development and teacher standards. At the time of publication, the NGA found that 16 states had adopted standards akin to Common Core as requirements for high school graduation.[1]

Another reason for the report's focus on state implementation was a concern about public perception. Federal involvement in education standards has proven controversial in recent history. The United States Senate rejected history standards developed under the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton by a 99-1 vote in 1995. This overwhelming rejection was caused by fears that the federal government would exceed its constitutional limits in dealing with educational issues.[11] Parents and education advocates also protested implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act after 2001 due to the frequency and types of tests mandated by the law.[12]

Each state deals with questions about timelines and budgetary concerns during implementation of Common Core standards. The recommended timetable from approval by state officials to evaluations based on Common Core standards is three years. This schedule can be difficult to follow as implementation requires professional training, curriculum adaptation to meet standards and evaluation development. Legislators and education officials also have to determine if there is enough money in annual budgets to handle implementation.[13]

Approval of Common Core standards

Forty-five states have approved Common Core standards as of March 7, 2014. States that have not adopted the standards include Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia. Minnesota has only adopted the English Language Arts requirements from the Common Core standards. Forty states approved the standards in 2010 while five states approved Common Core in 2011. Here is a timeline detailing when states approved Common Core:[14][15]




Public reaction

Public backlash against Common Core standards is becoming a frequent occurrence despite 45 states and four territories formally adopting Common Core. On September 19, 2013, a group of parents in California protested the state's adoption of Common Core when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited their city.[16] Duncan later drew criticism in November 2013 when he described the opposition to Common Core as "white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were," to a group of state school superintendents.[17] On November 18, 2013, parents in South Carolina and New York chose to keep their children home from school as part of a "National Common Core Protest Day" to demonstrate opposition to Common Core's "one-size-fits all curriculum" and standardized testing methods.[18][19] On December 8, 2013, the Buffalo Teachers Federation protested outside the residence of a state education regent in response to Common Core implementation and its emphasis on continually testing students.[20]

New York State United Teachers voted against the timetable for implementing Common Core standards in early 2014. The teachers' union for New York teachers successfully lobbied the New York State Assembly to approve a two-year moratorium on some portions of Common Core in March 2014.[21] Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, also criticized the implementation of Common Core standards in February 2014. He argued that the effectiveness of the standards was undercut by implementation problems at the state level. Van Roekel advocated for a "major course correction" to salvage the beneficial elements of Common Core.[22]

Government reaction

In response to the public outcry, several states have delayed implementation or rescinded adoption of the standards. The Alabama State Board of Education voted to revoke their agreement to adhere to the Common Core standards on November 14, 2013. However, their existing state standards are still in line with Common Core.[23] Alabama is the only state to pull away entirely from its commitment to the Common Core standards. Pennsylvania and Indiana are among several states to halt implementation.[24][25] Louisiana delayed Common Core's accountability measures for two years, while Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Georgia and Michigan are delaying or abandoning Common Core testing.[26][27][28][29][30]

Utah and Florida withdrew from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium, although both states plan to continue Common Core implementation.[31][32] In Ohio, Representative Andrew Thompson introduced House Bill 237 to the Ohio House of Representatives in order to prevent the state from implementing Common Core.[33]

Claims and criticisms

Supporters of Common Core standards echo the idea that American schools need more rigorous standards to stay competitive in the global economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce backs Common Core because the standards prepare students for future challenges while allowing states to maintain control over evaluations.[34] The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $170 million between 2010 and 2013 to support public awareness, research and training on Common Core standards.[35] Former Florida governor Jeb Bush argues on behalf of Common Core standards in his state because poor education costs taxpayers millions of dollars. He cited the high costs of remedial courses for high school students as an area that could be improved with better standards.[36] President Barack Obama has also advocated for higher education standards similar to Common Core with the Race to the Top program.[37]

Criticisms of Common Core standards range from concerns about excessive government involvement to concerns about the impacts of standardization on student success. State legislators including Alabama State Senator Scott Beason believe that each district should have control over curriculum, rather than the federal or state governments.[38] Education advocate Diane Ravitch has expressed concern about the initiative's mandates for instructional techniques and the push for mandatory testing.[39] Emmet McGroarty, the director of the American Principles Center, has criticized the lack of evaluation of Common Core standards in classroom settings before implementation.[40] There are also concerns by parents about the privacy of testing data gathered through statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) as part of annual testing. States are not required to use these systems as part of Common Core but publications like The New American have highlighted potential data mining of student information by education officials.[41][42]

See also

External links

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 National Governors Association, "Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education," December 2008
  2. National Governors Association, "Common Core State Standards K-12 Work and Feedback Groups Announced," November 10, 2009
  3. Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Summary of Public Feedback September 2009," accessed December 10, 2013
  4. Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Reactions to the March 2010 Draft Common Core State Standards: Highlights and Themes from the Public Feedback," accessed December 10, 2013
  5. Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Process," accessed December 10, 2013
  6. Julie Carr Smyth, Los Angeles Daily News, "As Common Core pushes cursive writing out of the way, a spirited minority wants to script penmanship back in," November 16, 2013
  7. Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Standards for Mathematical Practice," accessed December 10, 2013
  8. Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Standards for Mathematical Practice," accessed December 10, 2013
  9. Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, "Home," accessed December 10, 2013
  10. Smarter Balanced, "Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium," accessed December 10, 2013
  11. PBS, "Standards: Are We There Yet?" accessed March 7, 2014
  12. Education Week, "No Child Left Behind," September 19, 2011
  13. McGraw-Hill Education, "Education Brief: The Common Core State Standards Initiative," February 2011
  14. National Conference of State Legislatures, "Common Core State Standards," accessed March 7, 2014
  15. ACSD, "Common Core Standards Adoption by State," accessed March 7, 2014
  16. Susan Luzarro, San Diego Reader, "Chula Vista parents protest switch to Common Core State Standards," September 19, 2013
  17. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "Arne Duncan: ‘White suburban moms’ upset that Common Core shows their kids aren’t ‘brilliant’," November 16, 2013
  18. Allie Bidwell, U.S. News, "South Carolina Parents Remove Children From School to Protest Common Core," November 18, 2013
  19. Diane C. Lore, Staten Island Advance, "Some Staten Island parents planning to keep their children home from school Monday for National Common Core Protest Day," November 15, 2013
  20. Denise Jewell Gee, The Buffalo News, "BTF, parents picket Regent’s home in protest over state standards, tests," December 8, 2013
  21. Rich Karlin, Times Union, "NYSUT lauds Assembly for Common Core moratorium," March 6, 2014
  22. Stephanie Simon, Politico, "Nation’s biggest teachers union slams ‘botched’ Common Core implementation," February 19, 2014
  23. Challen Stephens,, "Common Core: Alabama votes to distance itself from controversial standards (week in review)," November 16, 2013
  24. Jan Murphy, The Patriot-News, "Corbett orders delay in Common Core academic standards' implementation," May 21, 2013
  25. Indiana Public Media, "House Bill 1427: What 'Pausing' The Common Core Means For Indiana Schools," accessed December 10, 2013
  26. John White, The Times Picayune, "Louisiana announces major changes to how students, schools held accountable under Common Core," November 21, 2013
  27. Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, "Two-Year Transition to Common-Core Tests Approved in Massachusetts," November 19, 2013
  28. Benjamin Herold, Education Week, "Tech Challenges Lead Oklahoma to Opt Out of PARCC Exams," July 3, 2013
  29. Bailey Pritchett, Heartland, "Common Core Testing Costs Increase; Georgia Withdraws," July 22, 2013
  30. CBS Detroit, "Michigan Gives Final OK To Common Core Standards," November 2, 2013
  31. Lisa Schencker, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah drops out of consortium developing Common Core tests," August 4, 2013
  32. Khristopher J. Brooks, The Florida-Times Union, "Common Core still moving ahead in Florida," October 16, 2013
  33. Jane Prendergast, Lancaster Eagle Gazette, "Ohio Republicans target Common Core," November 29, 2013
  34. Thomas J. Donahue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "Dispelling Common Core Misperceptions," January 22, 2014
  35. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "Gates Foundation pours millions into Common Core in 2013," November 27, 2013
  36. Sammy Mack, National Public Radio, "Three Questions: Jeb Bush On The State Of Common Core And Testing In Florida," January 30, 2014
  37. Al Baker, New York Times, "Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left," February 16, 2014
  38. Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser, "State Superintendent Tommy Bice sharply critical of Common Core bill," March 7, 2014
  39. Diane Ravitch, Diane Ravitch's Blog, "Why I Cannot Support the Common Core standards," February 26, 2013
  40. Philip Elliott, Christian Science Monitor, "Common Core critics cry educational folly," December 4, 2013
  41. Mallory Sauer, The New American, "Data Mining Students Through Common Core," April 25, 2013
  42. Gracy Olmstead, The American Conservative, "Common Core and Data Mining: Fact and Fiction Part II," March 10, 2014