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)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 33
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4249-2.ch004
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Abstract

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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Introduction

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.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Organisation for European Economic Cooperation: The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world ( http://www.oecd.org/about/ ).

National Center and State Collaborative Partnership (NCSC): Is a project led by five centers and 24 states (18 core states and 6 Tier II states) to build an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities ( http://www.ncscpartners.org/ ).

Global Economy (Cultural Definition): The international spread of capitalism, especially in recent decades, across national boundaries and with minimal restrictions by governments. The global economy has become controversial. Critics allege that its props, free markets and free trade, takes jobs away from well-paid workers in the wealthy nations while creating sweatshops in the poor ones. Its supporters insist that the free movement of capital stimulates investment in poor nations and creates jobs in them. The process is also called globalization ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/global+economy ).

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: Is a state-led consortium developing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics that are designed to help prepare all students to graduate high school college- and career-ready. Smarter Balanced is one of two multistate consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the 2014-15 school year ( http://www.smarterbalanced.org/ ).

Content Standards: Are “designed to encourage the highest achievement of every student, by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level” ( California State Board of Education, 2012 ).

National Assessment for Educational Progress: Is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas ( http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ ).

Race to the Top Fund: Funds from the U.S. Department of Education that will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education reform ( http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html ).

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC): Is a consortium of 23 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers. PARCC received a $186 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top assessment competition to support the development and design of the next-generation assessment system ( http://www.parcconline.org/about-parcc ).

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA): Aims to evaluate education systems worldwide every three years by assessing 15-year-olds' competencies in the key subjects: reading, mathematics, and science ( http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ ).

Performance Standards: “provide clear expectations for instruction, assessment, and student work. They define the level of work that demonstrates achievement of the standards, enabling a teacher to know ‘how good is good enough.’ The performance standards isolate and identify the skills needed to use the knowledge and skills to problem-solve, reason, communicate, and make connections with other information. They also tell the teacher how to assess the extent to which the student knows the material or can manipulate and apply the information” ( Georgia Department of Education, 2011 ).

Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO): Is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions ( http://www.ccsso.org/ ).

Cut Scores: On a test (or on multiple tests) is the score that separates test takers into various categories, such as a passing score and a failing score, or a selected score and a rejected score ( http://www.education.com/definition/cut-score/ ).

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study: TIMMS provides reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of U.S. 4th- and 8th-grade students compared to that of students in other countries ( http://nces.ed.gov/timss/ ).

National Governors Association: Governors identify priority issues and deal collectively with matters of public policy and governance at the state and national levels ( http://www.nga.org/cms/home.html ).

Thomas B. Fordham Institute: Is an American nonprofit education policy think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. and Dayton, Ohio. Its stated mission is to close America's vexing achievement gaps by raising standards, strengthening accountability, and expanding education options for parents and families (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 2011 AU54: The in-text citation "Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 2011" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

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