Common Core State Standards: The Promise for College and Career Ready Students in the U.S.

Common Core State Standards: The Promise for College and Career Ready Students in the U.S.

Carol Adamec Brown (East Carolina University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8111-8.ch002


Following the National Education Summit in 2000, the National Governors Association and the Council for Chief State School Officers proposed the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts. The rationale is to provide a consistent core curriculum for all schools in the United States. Each state has opportunity to contribute to the rigor, clarity, and specificity of the standards. Incentives for states to implement the national curriculum are identified in the Blueprint for ESEA, a federal initiative to implement education reforms. Policy makers and educators agree that achievement gaps between students in the U.S. and other higher performing countries must be closed. In addition, our children must be prepared for college classrooms and globally competitive careers. This chapter provides the history of standards-based education reform, the pros and cons of a nationally standardized curriculum, and current progress in implementation of Common Core State Standards.
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There are many views on how to achieve the reforms needed to improve our education system. Federal and state agencies, as well as national and international assessment groups report on the need to close the achievement gaps between various groups of children within the U.S. All the while there is growing alarm at our recent loss in international rankings through tests such as PISA and TIMM (National Center for Education Statistics, 2004). With the growing concerns about declining scores, many policy-makers propose a common core curriculum at either state or federal level. The purpose would be to ensure consistent, rigorous standards that would help all children in all regions be successful. No Child Left Behind has been controversial, but the mandates coming from this legislation have been successful in the adoption of individual state standards in an effort to add rigor to classroom instruction (Egnor, 2003). What policy-makers and educators do not agree on is the degree of quality in the core curriculum, one that addresses both breadth and depth of content. This has led to continuing debate on state versus federal control. In addition to the question of who will have the final say in what we teach our children, there are serious questions about implementation, accountability, and sustainability of a common core curriculum for all states. As of this writing, all but four states have voted to adopt Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and most have adopted both ELA as well as Common Core Standards for Mathematics. The next step is far more critical in achieving the goals for closing achievement gaps and preparing young people to be successful in college and the workplace. A sustainable plan for implementation must also be agreed upon. Each state has a unique opportunity to plan deployment in the schools appropriate for their geographic region, design professional development for teachers, and work with other states to plan consistent methods for assessment.

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