The Reasons Behind The Making of Common Core Standards

What the Creators of CCS Were Trying to Achieve

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With all of the buzz and fuss going on about Common Core State Standards (CCS,) you may wonder why the standards were even created in the first place.  CCS is probably the biggest education reform in the history of US public education.  Not surprisingly for a reform as massive as CCS there is resistance from various groups along with frustration from educators and parents who are having to deal with the daily realities of such a massive change.

I will let you decide what you think about CCS.  No matter how you feel about CCCS, I do think it is worthwhile for parents to take a look at the intentions behind CCS in order to understand what change is being sought in our school systems.  This can help parents to advocate for the right methods that will lead to a good implementation of CCS.  It can also help parents to know that some of the frustration leading to a new system is worth it.  While I do think each person may walk away differing about CCS itself, I also believe that the driving intentions behind CCS are something that most Americans would agree are worth striving for. 

Let's take a look at the reasons why the CCS were created:

Having High Standards Across The Nation For All Students  The US public school system is driven by local and state governments.  It has been left up to local communities to decide what to teach and at what grade level.

  This has led to massive differences in the quality and the content of education throughout our nation.  States with very high standards have students that have far stronger reading and math skills than states with lower standards.  CCS were created with the idea that all students in our nation should get a chance for a strong education in the basic skills that can prepare them to be successful in college, vocational training, or the workplace in the future.

Local communities and states still decide how to teach content and what materials they use.  Standards are different than curriculum.  Standards define what skill is being taught and when.  The CCS is not meant to be a national curriculum.  CCS hopes to keep each state and school districts own local contribution to determining school curriculum, while having an agreed upon set of reading and math skills that each student has the opportunity to learn.

National Standards Would Help Today's Mobile Americans  Some statistical sources say that average American child will move to different school districts three times before graduating from high school.  Americans move more today than they did in previous generations.  When school age children move between different districts and each district and state has different expectations about what students learn at different grade levels it can be hard to make sure that children do not have any gaps in their education.  Common standards will make it so that children who move will have had the chance to learn the same basic skills in each grade.

  No learning gaps.  No temptation or need to change grade levels, placing a younger child with older students or holding a child back and lengthening the time of their education. 

Simplify State Testing Systems  State testing has been mandatory since President George W. Bush authorized No Child Left Behind.  This testing is meant to keep states accountable to the public by showing that students are learning as expected each year.  This testing requirement was also meant to help ensure that each school was adequately teaching children by having a passage rate standard.  As I pointed out earlier, each state is able to decide what students learn when.  this means each state has to develop its own tests that match up to the expectations of each individual state.  The mandatory state testing scores could hardly be used to compare student learning between states, since each state has different expectations.  By expecting students to learn the same skills in the same grades, states can use the same tests and have data they can use to see how successful the materials and curriculum are for their state.

States Can Collaborate With standards shared between states, states will be able to compare and collaborate to get the best educational results for students.  When one state is successful, it should be easier to duplicate that success in other states by doing what the successful states do.

Allow Our Nation To Economically Compete In The Future  Top economists and educational scholars have reviewed international education for reading and literacy and have found that developed nations with strong skills in reading math lead to more economic growth. In order for our nation to remain competitive, we need to have a workforce with strong skills in literacy and math.  This will allow our nation to stay in the global game, rather than being forced out, unable to compete. 

These are the hopes, the goals of the Common Core State Standards.  They are meant to bring our entire nation up to a high level of literacy and math understanding.  Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this huge shift has had it's share of difficulties and controversies.  I hope that understanding why the CCS were created will give all stakeholders - teachers, students, policy makers and parents - the ability to keep focused on the initial goal, so that the goals behind CCS can be achieved, regardless of whether or not the standards themselves remain as they are originally created.

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