Why Common Core State Standards?
The Standards-based Education movement of the 1990s did a great deal to sharpen our focus as we defined what we wanted students to know, understand, and be able to do by the time they graduated from our schools. However, this movement was disjointed and left each state to identify their own expectations. At the same time, the assessment and accountability movement had gained steam. States were facing accountability to the federal government but each state was essentially defining its proficiency level and determining what it meant to master expectations. The focus was on testing and not on instruction. In addition, we were not measuring student growth but rather were holding schools and states accountable based on a single test in one moment of time.
International studies were showing that American students did not possess the same level of skill and knowledge as those in many other countries. It was also becoming clear that the “land of opportunity” was not really preparing all students for success. Our own achievement gaps were becoming more prevalent among students living in different socio-economic classes and those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Finally, we began to hear from employers that students were entering the work force with deficient skills and colleges were increasing enrollments in remedial, or foundation, courses and telling schools that students did not have the basic level of skill needed for college work.
The Common Core State Standards grew out of these concerns and were developed with a focus on developing students who are college and career ready, ensuring that the curriculum was created in a manner which provided time to support all students to reach rigorous standards in each grade, and included assessment practices that allow for examination of growth over time.
A simple introduction to the Common Core is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IGD9oLofks&feature=related Once you have viewed this introduction click on the button just above the screen titled 32 Videos. You will find many other videos created by the Hunt Institute which provide details about each area of the Common Core including information for how the ELA standards should be addressed across the content areas.