What are Common Core Standards?Common Core Standards are academic benchmarks that essentially define how much knowledge and skills students have gained throughout their educational career. This knowledge and skill set obtained will assist them in their journey in college and in life. The standards were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA) which was officially released to all states in 2010 (Anonymous, 2014). The standards are offered to all states however each state has the ability to decide whether or not it wants to use them. If they choose to use the standards, they are required to prepare students for testing their mastery of those Common Core Standards that have been taught throughout the school year.
Common Core Standards are designed for grade-level expectations in English language arts and math for students in K-12 schools. These standards are internationally benchmarked and are aligned with work and college expectations. The standards are not considered a curriculum but rather describe the skills and knowledge K-12 students are expected to develop.
Why should Common Core Standards be Implemented?
Common Core Standards prepare students for something far beyond the next grade level or the next overall academic level (elementary, middle, or high school). The standards prepare students for life, not just college. They set the bar for what students should be learning in K-12 in order for them to be ready for college and a career (Humphries & Ness, 2015). The standards provide a framework for what students should know to successfully enter college or the workforce upon graduating high school.
How will Common Core Standards be Implemented?
Common Core Standards will be implemented through vocabulary and math instruction beginning in kindergarten. By setting the standards high as early as kindergarten it will give students a better idea of what to expect as they continue to move through the grades in primary and secondary schools. Vocabulary is the core of the English Language Arts (ELA) piece of the Common Core Standards and it is imperative that it be introduced as early as possible in the K-12 curricula (Baker, et al, 2015). Students should be able to recognize words, their meanings and in what context that word should be used. Implementation methods of ELA Common Core Standards include using clear, consistent routines during instruction time, allowing extra time to complete tasks, support student activities based on their knowledge and prior educational experience, and use visual aids to show differences in word meanings.
Math Common Core Standards can be implemented in the same manner. Learning basic math facts is crucial as it is the foundation of every mathematical problem that a student will learn. Implementation strategies should be similar for math as is set for ELA. International benchmarking in the areas of science and math challenges students to meet high expectations. This pushes school districts to aim for higher levels of progress in order to ‘catch up’ to international educational standards of Common Core (Woolard, 2012).
A contending policy with Common Core is The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which was modified from its previous version of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) by President Obama in 2015. ESSA continues to build on educational progress that has been made over the years as well as identify additional support for those children who need it. Controversy has surrounded Common Core where educators and parents do not feel that Common Core standardized testing does not accurately define the capabilities of our youth. Educators and parents have argued that the intensity of the program in the context of being a requirement for preparedness for college and a career should not be based on one set of standards.
One recommendation of implementation of Common Core should embrace these standards and continue to express the importance of these standards as a process to learning. In addition, parents and educators should be informed as to why these standards are being implemented and its importance to the success of their students. Information sessions will foster an environment that is easily understandable to both the parent and the student. Teaching components of the standards with an explanation of why these components are being taught will enhance the student’s knowledge.
- Anonymous (2014). Understanding the Common Core Standards: what they are – what they are not. The Education Digest, 79(8), 16-21.
- Baker, D. L, Santoro, L., Ware, S., Cuellar, D., Oldham, A., Cuticelli, M., Coyne, M. D., Loftus Rattan, S., & McCoach, B. (2015). Understanding and implementing the Common Core vocabulary standards in Kindergarten. Teaching Exceptional Children, 47(5), 264-271.
- Humphries, J. & Ness, M. (2015). Beyond who, what, where, when, why, and how: preparing students to generate questions in the age of Common Core Standards. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 29, 551-564.
- Woolard, J. C. (2012). Prelude to the Common Core: internationally benchmarking a state’s math standards. Educational Policy, 27(4), 615-644.