If you have a child(ren) going to elementary, middle or high school, you would have likely heard about Common Core from the school. Equally likely, you would have some unanswered questions on what exactly is Common Core and what is its relevance for you and your child(ren). This article attempts to provide a high level overview of Common Core and discuss its relevance for you. If you have any questions after reading the article, you may check the websites cited at the end of the article.
What is Common Core?
Common Core is a short name for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. It is an initiative sponsored by National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) with the twin goals of raising the bar on US K-12 educational standards to the best international ones and to bring coherence to the diverse state standards. Common Core is voluntary for State-level adoption and is not a federally mandated, although States were given many incentives to adopt Common Core.
Forty-five States, the District of Columbia and four US territories have adopted the Common Core standards so far, making them virtually US National Standards. Texas, Virginia, Alaska and Nebraska are not members of Common Core. Minnesota has only adopted the English Language standards.
Current focus of the Common Core Standards is in Mathematics and English Language Arts, as they are the basic building blocks of K-12 education. These Standards were released in 2010. The member states have started the adoption process over the last couple of years. Standards for other subject areas are still evolving.
What is the impact on US education system?
Common Core is expected to have substantial impact on the US Educational system. Everything, except the physical infrastructure, of the public schools will be impacted in the States that have adopted the Standards. To name a few areas of that will be impacted
- The Curriculum and Standards
- Teacher training
- Text books and materials
- Teacher evaluation and professional development
The biggest impact will however be felt when the formal assessments change. When and how will they change?
When and how will the Assessments changes?
Currently, most states are following their past assessment methodologies with the new standards. However, most states are gearing towards new assessment methodologies starting with academic year 2014-15. There are two major assessment under development currently to be adapted by a number of states from the academic yet 2014-2015. These are Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced. For additional information related to PARCC and Smarter Balanced, please check the websites cited at the end of the article. If you live in Georgia, please check out the ‘In the News’ section of this newsletter for the latest update on Georgia’s assessment system changes.
PARCC and Smarter Balanced based assessment are expected to be much more rigorous than the current assessments. For instance, the current focus in most state assessments is on understanding the procedures and much less on thinking skills. PARCC and Smarter Balanced claim to test the fluency as well as problem solving skills that require critical thinking skills.
This article does not discuss the politics of Common Core, but they are equally important as the direction of the implementation in each state depends on the political direction. Newspaper headlines and talk shows are good sources to keep up to date on the political direction of Common Core.
What are additional sources of information for further research?
The following links provide additional information related to Common Core and PARCC.
Comparison of PARCC and Smarter Balanced: http://www.schoolleadership20.com/forum/topic/show?id=1990010%3ATopic%3A130425
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