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What Are Common Core State Standards?

What Are Common Core State StandardsAs the debate over education reform continues in the United States, you’ve probably heard about the Common Core State Standards initiative. What is it exactly, and how will it affect your child’s education? In this introduction to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), we’ll cover the basics of the initiative—including which states have adopted CCSS, how it will be implemented in your child’s school, why we’re in favor of CCSS, and what we still don’t know about CCSS—as well as its possible implications for students who receive special education services.

The CCSS initiative was neither designed nor mandated by the federal government. Rather, it is led by states and state-level groups/organizations, primarily the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The CCSS were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts with the goal of unifying state educational standards in English language arts and math across the board—a major shift away from the current model of each state setting its own standards.

This three-minute video explains CCSS in a fun, simple way:


The standards have also been carefully designed to improve the quality of education and to better prepare students for college and career. The official CCSS website explains it like this:

“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

The standards are based on those in the highest performing states and successful foreign countries and are evidence-based, realistic, and practical.

How Will Common Core State Standards Be Implemented in Your Child’s School? The CCSS apply only to math and English/language arts. Standards for other academic subjects will continue to be set by each state. To date, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Each participating state will determine when to start implementing the CCSS in its public schools.

To learn when and how CCSS will be implemented in your state’s schools, click on the link for your state on this helpful state-by-state guide from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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Tags: grade3-8