What Are the Common Core Standards? Summary
Introduction to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS): 10 Essential Facts
1. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) define academic expectations in English language arts and mathematics for students in kindergarten through grade 12.
2. By 2014-2015, CCSS will be fully implemented in the states that have adopted them, and student progress will be assessed through testing at the end of the school year.
3. Common Core State Standards have currently been adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands.
4. The states that have not yet adopted the standards are Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia. Minnesota has adopted CCSS for English language arts only.
5. CCSS assessments are being developed by 2 consortia of states. The SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium has released practice tests and sample test questions, available here.
6. How the standards are implemented is the decision of each state that adopts them.
7. How lesson plans are developed to address the standards is the decision of the classroom teacher.
8. CCSS for English language arts (K-12) establish a 50/50 balance of fiction and informational/nonfiction literature. Required reading content includes classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s founding documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.
9. CCSS for math establish a uniform sequence of grade-level instruction in math. Math topics are introduced and taught progressively in the same order throughout grades K-12.
10. CCSS guidelines include information for applying the standards to students with disabilities and to learners of English as a second language.
Overview of the Common Core State Standards
The development of the Common Core State Standards began in 2009 with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a joint effort of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The goal was to bring into alignment the various academic performance standards established by the states in response to No Child Left Behind and to establish academic expectations with an international benchmark.
Common Core State Standards were written, reviewed, revised, and then released on June 2, 2010. The standards are copyrighted; states that adopt the standards cannot revise them, but individual states can choose how to implement them and may incorporate them into existing state performance standards. Curricula, instructional strategies, teaching methods, and specific classroom texts are not mandated.
The focus of the Common Core State Standards is to prepare students for college, postsecondary training, and careers. The standards address both content and skills, emphasizing the application of knowledge through critical thinking, problem solving, and communications. In addition, English language arts standards for grades 6-12 are written to develop literacy across additional academic disciplines—science, social studies, and technology. ACT and SAT tests will be revised to incorporate the new standards.
CCSS may be revised in the future, and new standards may be developed for additional subjects. The current standards are organized into the main sections listed below.
1. English Language Arts Standards (K-12). These develop knowledge and skills in the following areas:
- Reading: Literature
- Reading: Informational Text
- Reading: Foundational Skills
- Speaking and Listening
2. English Language Arts Standards (6-12). These focus on developing knowledge and skills in additional areas:
- Literacy in History/Social Studies
- Science and Technical Subjects
3. Standards in mathematics (K-12). These are organized in two primary sections:
- Standards for Mathematical Practice
- Standards by Domain
Controversy and the Common Core State Standards
Some teachers and educators have voiced various concerns about CCSS as the standards have been reviewed and adopted. The primary concerns reported are the following:
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