The Common Core State Standards Initiative

BAEO Policy Analysis

Overview: What is the Common Core State Standards Initiative?
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, hereafter referred to as CCSSI or the standards, is a state-led effort initiated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The effort seeks to improve quality and equity in K-12 education through the establishment of one clear set of academic standards for English-language arts and mathematics that are standardized across states, research-based, and internationally-benchmarked.

The standards were designed by a diverse group of teachers, experts, parents, and school administrators. The purpose of the standards is to outline exactly what skills and knowledge students should obtain at each step in their academic instruction in order to be prepared for college and career. This will ensure that both educators and parents understand what the student should learn as they progress through the educational system.

CCSSI will be a state driven effort. State adoption of the standards is voluntary and each state has flexibility in determining how to implement the standards in their state. Although a state adopts the standards, each state will determine its own curriculum. The standards are intended to set clear expectations on what all students should learn, however, each state must determine the best way for their students to reach the academic goals set by CCSSI. Thus far, 45 states have adopted the standards, in addition to the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoan Islands, US Virgin Islands and the Anchorage, AK School District*.

Why is this important?
Prior to CCSSI, academic standards varied across states, and even schools within the same state. This often resulted in some states and schools having lower academic standards, lower expectations, and less rigorous curricula for their students. Unfortunately, geography determined the quality of education a student received. This not only negatively impacted equity in K-12 education; it also created conflict in how well students were prepared for college and career. With the old standards, many students would need to take remedial courses during their first few years of college and were not prepared with the proper skill set necessary to be successful in the workforce. Furthermore, when families relocated to another state, there was the possibility that their child would not be prepared for their new school system due to the differing standards and rigor. This is especially an issue for military families. Lastly, the standards are internationally-benchmarked ensuring that our nation's children will be competitive in a global economy. CCSSI is a foundational step to providing equal access and opportunity for all students to obtain a high quality education.

What are the key issues to consider?
As with most education reform policies, there are issues to consider with the implementation of the standards. The states have flexibility with how they chose to implement the standards in their state. Likewise, it is up to states how they choose to assess the implementation of the standards. Some states are voluntarily coming together to develop a common assessment system of the common core state standards, however, this is not required. Implementation and assessment of the standards must be closely monitored to ensure that no child, district, school, or state falls between the gaps.

Additionally, the standards, alone, cannot improve the quality of our educational system. Given that teachers will be expected to teach according to new standards in their states, there must be a focus on ensuring that schools and educators have the proper resources necessary to effectively make these changes in their schools.

Why BAEO supports Common Core:
BAEO believes all children deserve access to a high-quality education. It is BAEO's goal to promote high quality educational options and reform strategies that address the urgent educational needs of our community and promise to close the achievement gap. CCSSI strives to eradicate the impact that a families' geography has on the quality of education that their child obtains.

There are several additional factors that are embedded in this equation. Where a family lives is also associated with their income and race. Black low-income and working class families are disproportionately located in those school districts and states where their child's education is jeopardized by low academic standards and expectations. Therefore, these families would benefit from CCSSI as this effort strives to have all schools within and between states be held to the same high standards, rigor, and expectations for student learning and achievement.

Furthermore, given BAEO's interest in promoting parent involvement and options for parents to obtain high quality education for their children, BAEO supports the standards and will work to generate greater support of the standards within the Black community. The standards will better equip parents with knowledge about what their child should be learning in certain grades. This knowledge will allow the parents to hold their schools more accountable for providing high-quality instruction aligned with the standards.

* Virginia, Alaska, Texas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Marina Islands have not adopted the standards