Common Core State Standards Initiative

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governorship-clipart-common-core-featureThe Common Core State Standards Initiative is a U.S. education initiative that seeks to/ bring/ diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform. The initiative is sponsored by

the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The past twenty years in the U.S. have also been termed the "Accountability Movement," as states are being held to mandatory tests of student achievement, which are expected to demonstrate a common core of knowledge that all citizens should have to be successful in this country.[1] As part of this overarching education reform movement, the nation’s governors and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in 1996 as a bi-partisan organization to raise academic standards, graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states.[2] The initial motivation for the development of the Common Core State Standards was part of the American Diploma Project (ADP).[3]

A report titled, “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts,” from 2004 found that both employers and colleges are demanding more of high school graduates than in the past.[4] According to Achieve, Inc., “current high-school exit expectations fall well short of [employer and college] demands.”[5] The report explains that the major problem currently facing the American school system is that high school graduates were not provided with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed.[5] "While students and their parents may still believe that the diploma reflects adequate preparation for the intellectual demands of adult life, in reality it falls far short of this common-sense goal." (page 1). The report continues that the diploma itself lost its value because graduates could not compete successfully beyond high school,[5] and that the solution to this problem is a common set of rigorous standards.

Announced on June 1, 2009,[6] the initiative's stated purpose is to "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."[7] Additionally, "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," which will place American students in a position in which they can compete in a global economy.[7] Forty-five of the fifty states in the United States are members of the initiative, with the states of TexasVirginiaAlaska, and Nebraska not adopting the initiative at a state level.[8] Minnesota has adopted the English Language Arts standards but not the Mathematics standards.[9]

Standards were released for mathematics and English language arts on June 2, 2010, with a majority of states adopting the standards in the subsequent months. (See below for current status.) States were given an incentive to adopt the Common Core Standards through the possibility of competitive federal Race to the Top grants. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the Race to the Top competitive grants on July 24, 2009, as a motivator for education reform.[10] To be eligible, states had to adopt "internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the work place."[11] This meant that in order for a state to be eligible for these grants, the states had to adopt the Common Core State Standards or a similar career and college readiness curriculum. The competition for these grants provided a major push for states to adopt the standards.[12] The adoption dates for those states that chose to adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiative are all within the two years following this announcement.[13] The common standards are funded by the governors and state schools chiefs, with additional support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, theCharles Stewart Mott Foundation, and others.[14] States are planning to implement this initiative by 2015[15] by basing at least 85% of their state curricula on the Standards.

 

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