What is the Common Core?

The Common Core State StandardsThis is part one of a three-part series about the Common Core:

1. What is the Common Core?
2. Benefits of the Common Core
3. Drawbacks of the Common Core

About the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a set of American teaching standards created with the goal of aligning the diverse teaching criteria of school boards located in the different states within the United States of America. It is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

The history of the Common Core

A lot of work went into crafting the various standards of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, beginning in July of 2009. During 2009 and early 2010, teachers, parents, and community leaders worked together to discuss shared educational goals and to start coming up with the critical skills that they believed should be taught per grade level in American schools. In March of 2010 the first public draft of the Common Core State Standards was released to the various states of the union for perusal and feedback. On June 2, 2010, the working version of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts (ELA) was formally issued to the public.

The Common Core State Standards were adopted by most American states. Alaska and Texas chose not to adopt the standards, while Minnesota chose to adopt the English language arts (ELA) standards only while continuing to use their own state curriculum for mathematics. Both Nebraska and Virginia are currently initiative members. Meanwhile, overseas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the American Samoa islands have all chosen to adopt the Common Core State Standards.

Teaching according to the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards are divided by grade level into two parts; mathematics standards and English language arts (ELA) standards. Studying the different Common Core subject areas can give a student a clear and consistent understanding of the skills they are expected to learn for any given academic year, and can help teachers and parents provide a standardized learning environment to foster these skills within their students. By employing the Common Core State Standards to teach their students, educational institutions are working to ensure that their students’ skills are on par with other students of like grade level at schools located across the country.

Pros and cons of the Common Core

Using the Common Core has several notable advantages, but as many teachers have discovered while adopting the Common Core State Standards in their schools, there are also some significant drawbacks to its adoption. In my next post I will discuss some of the strong advantages of using the Common Core as part of a teaching regimen; following that post, we’ll take a look at some of the negative points to adopting the Common Core State Standards.

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