What are Common Core State Standards?
The Common Core is a set of high-quality standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy for grades K-12. They outline what a student should know at the end of each grade level. The purpose of these academic standards is to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the necessary knowledge to succeed, whether that is in college, a career or throughout life. The standards are intended to make sure all students, regardless of where they live, are receiving the same education.
Who developed the Common Core State Standards?
A group of bipartisan state education officials and governors in 48 states developed the Common Core, which is adopted in 43 states.
The Washington Post reported, “The federal government had no official role in developing the standards. But the Obama administration has supported them, giving $360 million to the group of states that is writing new Common Core tests.”
Why adopt the Common Core State Standards?
The standards were created with the intent to be able to compare what students across the country are learning. In order to do so, they must be assessed in the same manner. The standards are intended to ensure that students fully master key concepts, rather than memorize answers.
How do the Common Core State Standards affect teachers?
It acts as a form of checks and balances, providing teachers with goals to ensure students are continuing on a path for a successful future in college, career and life. The standards establish what students need to learn but do not tell teachers how they should teach. The curricula are designed by the teachers and tailored by their individual teaching styles.
Legislation on Common Core State Standards in North Carolina
- NC adopted the standards in 2010, replacing the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.
- Since its implementation, the Department of Public Instruction has spent $66 million from a Federal Race to the Top grant to fund professional development for the 100,000 teachers responsible for getting students to meet the standards. This does not include local school district expenditures. For example, since 2012 Wake County spent $3 million on training workshops funded with tax dollars.
- In the 2014 short session, the NC General Assembly passed Session Law 2014-78. While it keeps the CCSS in place for the 2014-15 school year, it created an 11-member Academic Standards Review Commission to review the standards and recommend changes to the State Board of Education. The appointed members are:
House Appointments Senate Appointments
Ms. Tammy Covil, New Hanover Ms. Ann B. Clark, Iredell
Dr. Jeffrey Isenhour, Catawba Dr. Laurie McCollum, Rockingham
Ms. Katie Lemons, Stokes Ms. Jeannie A. Metcalf, Forsyth
Ms. Denise Watts, Mecklenburg Dr. John T. Scheik, Wake
State Board of Education Members Gubernatorial Appointment
Chairman William “Bill” Cobey, Durham Mr. Andre Peek, Wake
Dr. Olivia Oxendine, Robeson
- The law also calls for both the Review Commission and the State Board of Education to “conduct a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards” and propose modifications to ensure that they:
- Increase students’ level of academic achievement
- Meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities
- Are age and developmentally appropriate
- Are understandable to parents and teacher.
- Are among the highest standards in the nation
- The Review Commission will report its findings and recommendations to the “State Board of Education, the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, and the 2016 Session of the 2015 General Assembly. The Commission shall terminate on December 31, 2015, or upon the filing of its final report, whichever occurs first.”
Concerns About the Common Core State Standards
- Critics are unhappy that private groups, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, helped fund the development of the standards without adequate input from teachers.
- With the development of new standards, teachers need to find new instructional materials. This has created a financial burden on some school districts. Some people worry that the new testing that accompanies the standards will yield a heavy profit for textbook and testing companies.
- The implementation of the standards is costly. The Pioneer Institute estimates North Carolina will spend approximately $525 million to $641.9 million from 2014-2021 to implement Common Core.
- The politics surrounding the implementation of the standards has been cause for concern. For example, the Obama administration said states were eligible to apply for Race to the Top funding only if they adopted college and career-ready standards.
- Some critics are concerned with the increased testing and corporate influence over education that is associated with national standards.
- Critics of the Common Core believe the testing that comes along with the standards is too difficult and inappropriate for the grade level, particularly for younger students.
Support for the Common Core State Standards
- Many educators support a system of national standards like the Common Core because it provides a way to equally measure performance in each state.
- The U.S. is outperformed on international assessments by countries that have clearly defined high standards for their students.
- Supporters of the Common Core say the standards are superior to North Carolina’s Standard Course of Study. Organizations like the John Locke Foundation, the National Education Association and the North Carolina Association of Educators say the standards are an improvement.
- Retired N.C. generals urged state lawmakers to keep the Common Core State Standards in place, citing poor educational achievement as one of the leading reasons why an estimated 75 percent of young Americans are unable to join the military.
- Those who support the Common Core say NC has not allowed sufficient time for the large-scale changes that accompany the standards. Teachers need time, training and experience with the standards before they can create curricula.
Which States Are Using the Common Core State Standards?
According to the Education Commission of the States,
- Five states— Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia—and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico never adopted the CCSS.
- Of the states that originally adopted the CCSS, Indiana and Oklahoma have eliminated the CCSS entirely, and Louisiana is trying to do away with the standards.
- States reviewing and potentially replacing CCSS: Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.
- States affirming CCSS, local control: Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
- States affirming CCSS, reviewing implementation: Connecticut, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
- States committing to CCSS implementation: Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, and Nevada
- State affirming CCSS but limiting future multi-state standards: South Dakota.
- States affirming CCSS but renaming: Arizona, 25+ states.
- State affirming CCSS but modifying and renaming: Florida.
Created September 23, 2014
 The Council of the Great City Schools is the only national organization exclusively representing the needs of urban public schools. Composed of 65 large city school districts, its mission is to promote the cause of urban schools and to advocate for inner-city students through legislation, research and media relations.