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Common Core State Standards Initiative


The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational initiative in the United States that details what K–12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and seeks to establish consistent educational standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit-bearing courses at two- or four-year college programs or to enter the workforce.

In the 1990s, the "Standards & Accountability Movement" began in the U.S. as states began writing standards (a) outlining what students were expected to know and to be able to do at each grade level, and (b) implementing assessments designed to measure whether students were meeting the standards. As part of this education reform movement, the nation's governors and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in 1996 as a bipartisan organization to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states. The initial motivation for the development of the Common Core State Standards was part of the American Diploma Project (ADP).

A 2004 report, titled Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts, found that both employers and colleges are demanding more of high school graduates than in the past. According to Achieve, Inc., "current high-school exit expectations fall well short of employer and college demands." The report explained 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 in college and careers. "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." The report said that the diploma itself lost its value because graduates could not compete successfully beyond high school, and that the solution to this problem is a common set of rigorous standards.

In 2009, the NGA convened a group of people to work on developing the standards. This team included David Coleman, William McCallum of the University of Arizona, Phil Daro, and Student Achievement Partners founders Jason Zimba and Susan Pimentel to write standards in the areas of English and language arts. Announced on June 1, 2009, 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." 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 should place American students in a position in which they can compete in a global economy.


Mathematics domains at each grade level
Domain Kindergarten Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
Counting and Cardinality X                
Operations and Algebraic Thinking X X X X X X      
Number and Operations in Base 10 X X X X X X      
Measurement and Data X X X X X X      
Geometry X X X X X X X X X
Number and Operations—Fractions       X X X      
Ratios and Proportional Relationships             X X  
The Number System             X X X
Expressions and Equations             X X X
Statistics and Probability             X X X
Functions                 X
State Adoption stance Notes
Alabama Formally adopted State school board voted to rescind the agreement that commits the state to adoption. However, state standards are still aligned with Common Core State Standards.
Alaska Non-member
Arizona Formally adopted The Arizona State Board of Education voted to reject Common Core on October 26, 2015. The vote was 6–2 in favor of repeal.
Arkansas Formally adopted
California Formally adopted
Colorado Formally adopted
Connecticut Formally adopted
Delaware Formally adopted
District of Columbia Formally adopted
Florida Non-Member Dropped in favor of "Florida State Standards", which are based on Common Core standards.
Georgia Formally adopted
Hawaii Formally adopted
Idaho Formally adopted
Illinois Formally adopted
Indiana Repealed Implementation paused by law for one year in May 2013 and under public review; formally withdrew in March 2014, but retained many of the standards.
Iowa Formally adopted
Kansas Formally adopted Defunding legislation passed Senate, narrowly failed in House in July 2013.
Kentucky Formally adopted
Louisiana Formally adopted Governor signed executive order to withdraw state from PARCC assessment program. (June 2014).
Maine Formally adopted
Maryland Formally adopted
Massachusetts Formally adopted Delayed Common Core testing for two years in November 2013. Ballot question on future of standards in 2016 has been ruled against by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as of August 12, 2016.
Michigan Formally adopted Implementation was paused for a time but was approved to continue.
Minnesota Partially Adopted English standards only, math standards rejected.
Mississippi Formally adopted Withdrew from PARCC testing on January 16, 2015.
Missouri Under review
Montana Formally adopted
Nebraska Non-member
Nevada Formally adopted
New Hampshire Formally adopted
New Jersey Under review
New Mexico Formally adopted
New York Formally adopted Full implementation of assessment delayed until 2022.
North Carolina Under review
North Dakota Formally adopted
Ohio Formally adopted There is currently legislation in progress to repeal Common Core from the state.
Oklahoma Repealed Legislation restoring state standards signed June 5, 2014.
Oregon Formally adopted
Pennsylvania Formally adopted Paused implementation in May 2013.
Rhode Island Formally adopted
South Carolina Repealed A bill to repeal the Standards beginning in the 2015-2016 school year was officially signed by Governor Nikki Haley in June 2014 after deliberation in the state legislature.
South Dakota Formally adopted
Tennessee Under review
Texas Non-member
Utah Under review
Vermont Formally adopted
Virginia Non-member
Washington Formally adopted
West Virginia Formally adopted
Wisconsin Formally adopted
Wyoming Formally adopted

Reading
Writing
Speaking and listening
Language
Media and technology
Attend to precision
Mathematically proficient students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context. In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other. By the time they reach high school they have learned to examine claims and make explicit use of definitions.
Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction.
1. Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
Add and subtract within 20.
2. Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies. By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.
Work with equal groups of objects to gain foundations for multiplication.
3. Determine whether a group of objects (up to 20) has an odd or even number of members, e.g., by pairing objects or counting them by 2s; write an equation to express an even number as a sum of two equal addends.
4. Use addition to find the total number of objects arranged in rectangular arrays with up to 5 rows and up to 5 columns; write an equation to express the total as a sum of equal addends.
Grade 3:
  • Develop an understanding of fractions as numbers.
Grade 4:
  • Extend understanding of fraction equivalence and ordering.
  • Build fractions from unit fractions by applying and extending previous understandings of operations on whole numbers.
  • Understand decimal notation for fractions, and compare decimal fractions.
Grade 5:
  • Use equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions.
  • Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to multiply and divide fractions.
In Grade 6, there is no longer a "number and operations—fractions" domain, but students learn to divide fractions by fractions in the number system domain.
Seeing Structure in Expressions (A-SSE)
  • Interpret the structure of expressions
  • Write expressions in equivalent forms to solve problems
Arithmetic with Polynomials and Rational Functions (A-APR)
  • Perform arithmetic operations on polynomials
  • Understand the relationship between zeros and factors of polynomials
  • Use polynomial identities to solve problems
  • Rewrite rational expressions
Creating Equations.★ (A-CED)
  • Create equations that describe numbers or relationships
Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (A-REI)
  • Understand solving equations as a process of reasoning and explain the reasoning
  • Solve equations and inequalities in one variable
  • Solve systems of equations
  • Represent and solve equations and inequalities graphically
Interpret the structure of expressions
1. Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.★
a. Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.
b. Interpret complicated expressions by viewing one or more of their parts as a single entity. For example, interpret P(1+r)nas the product of P and a factor not depending on P.
2. Use the structure of an expression to identify ways to rewrite it. For example, see x4y4 as (x2)2 – (y2)2, thus recognizing it as a difference of squares that can be factored as (x2y2)(x2 + y2).
a. Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.
b. Interpret complicated expressions by viewing one or more of their parts as a single entity. For example, interpret P(1+r)nas the product of P and a factor not depending on P.
  • As students advance through each grade, there is an increased level of complexity to what students are expected to read and there is also a progressive development of reading comprehension so that students can gain more from what they read.
  • Teachers, school districts, and states are expected to decide on the appropriate curriculum, but sample texts are included to help teachers, students, and parents prepare for the year ahead. Molly Walsh of Burlington Free Press notes an appendix (of state standards for reading material) that lists "exemplar texts" from works by noted authors such as Ovid, Voltaire, William Shakespeare, Ivan Turgenev, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, W. B. Yeats, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the more contemporary including Amy Tan, Atul Gawande and Julia Alvarez.
  • There is some critical content for all students – classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature, and the writings of Shakespeare – but the rest is left up to the states and the districts.
  • The driving force of the writing standards is logical arguments based on claims, solid reasoning, and relevant evidence. The writing also includes opinion writing even within the K–5 standards.
  • Short, focused research projects, similar to the kind of projects students will face in their careers, as well as long-term, in-depth research is another piece of the writing standards. This is because written analysis and the presentation of significant findings are critical to career and college readiness.
  • The standards also include annotated samples of student writing to help determine performance levels in writing arguments, explanatory texts, and narratives across the grades.
  • Although reading and writing are the expected components of an English language arts curriculum, standards are written so that students gain, evaluate, and present complex information, ideas, and evidence specifically through listening and speaking.
  • There is also an emphasis on academic discussion in one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class settings, which can take place as formal presentations as well as informal discussions during student collaboration.
  • Vocabulary instruction in the standards takes place through a mix of conversations, direct instruction, and reading so that students can determine word meanings and can expand their use of words and phrases.
  • The standards expect students to use formal English in their writing and speaking, but also recognize that colleges and 21st-century careers will require students to make wise, skilled decisions about how to express themselves through language in a variety of contexts.
  • Vocabulary and conventions are their own strand because these skills extend across reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  • Since media and technology are intertwined with every student's life and in school in the 21st century, skills related to media use, which includes the analysis and production of various forms of media, are also included in these standards.
  • The standards include instruction in keyboarding, but do not mandate the teaching of cursive handwriting. As of late 2013, seven states had elected to maintain teaching of cursive: California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Utah.
  • Develop an understanding of fractions as numbers.
  • Extend understanding of fraction equivalence and ordering.
  • Build fractions from unit fractions by applying and extending previous understandings of operations on whole numbers.
  • Understand decimal notation for fractions, and compare decimal fractions.
  • Use equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions.
  • Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to multiply and divide fractions.
  • Interpret the structure of expressions
  • Write expressions in equivalent forms to solve problems
  • Perform arithmetic operations on polynomials
  • Understand the relationship between zeros and factors of polynomials
  • Use polynomial identities to solve problems
  • Rewrite rational expressions
  • Create equations that describe numbers or relationships
  • Understand solving equations as a process of reasoning and explain the reasoning
  • Solve equations and inequalities in one variable
  • Solve systems of equations
  • Represent and solve equations and inequalities graphically
  • The PARCC RttT Assessment Consortium comprises the 19 jurisdictions of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. Their approach focuses on computer-based "through-course assessments" in each grade together with streamlined end-of-year tests. (PARCC refers to "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers" and RttT refers to the Race to the Top.)
  • The second consortium, called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, comprised 31 states and territories (as of January 2014) focusing on creating "adaptive online exams". Member states include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
  • Hess, Frederick M. and Michael Q. McShane eds. Common Core Meets Education Reform: What It All Means for Politics, Policy, and the Future of Schooling (Teachers College Press; 2013) 232 pages; Essays by academics and policy analysts on integrating Common Core Standards with existing efforts at accountability and other reforms.
  • Pattison, Darcy. What is Common Core? (Mims House; 2013) 78 pages; Overview and introduction to the Common Core State Standards.
  • Richard P. Phelps and R. James Milgram, The Revenge of K–12: How Common Core and the New SAT Lower College Standards in the U.S., Boston: Pioneer Institute, 2014.
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