Succinctly, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, aka Common Core, is a set of specifications detailing what students in grades K-12 should know in mathematics and English language arts at the completion of each grade. They were developed by representatives from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia over a period of years, culminating in 2009. The standards were based on mountains of data collected as a result of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and its predecessor, the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
In part, the standards evolved from the need for schools to address the issue that students in grades K-12 in the United States had been continuously lagging behind other industrialized nations in academic achievement. In 2015, US 15-year-olds ranked 38 out of 71 countries in math and 24 in science. Among 35 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US ranked 30th in math and 19th in science. In Europe, 92% of primary and secondary students learn a foreign language in school, compared with 20% of K-12 students in the US. This is emphasized in the final bullet point below.
Officially, “The [Common Core] 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.” They are …
- Research and evidence based;
- Clear, understandable, and consistent;
- Aligned with college and career expectations;
- Based on rigorous content and the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills;
- Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards;
- Informed by top-performing countries to prepare all students for success in a global economy and society.
For those wanting the 4-1-1, you can read or download the actual standards, itemized by grade and by subject matter (e.g., geometry) here.
Common Core was originally adopted by 41 states and the District of Columbia, but it quickly provoked a huge backlash — especially in mathematics. Critics compared the math to the disastrous “New Math” movement of the 1960s, adding fuel to the fire. Parents found themselves unable to help their kids with homework, and they vented their ire on legislators. Some teachers, faced with learning new content and teaching methods, did likewise, as did PR pundits and paid advisors. The legislators, rather than familiarize themselves with the standards they had voted to adopt — or defend them — largely turned tail and ran.
For example, Florida adopted Common Core in 2010. In 2014, it replaced the standards with its own, rosily called “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.” And in February, 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his intent to “remove every vestige” of Common Core from the state. Other states have taken similar actions.
Also in 2014, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, while supportive of Common Core overall, issued an executive order removing the words “Common Core” from the state’s math and reading standards. Although they remained aligned with national standards, the name was changed to “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.” In the legislature, the Senate Education Committee later passed a bill to withdraw Arizona from Common Core and in 2015, the Arizona State Board of Education elected to repeal Common Core in a 6-2 vote, although individual schools may still opt to follow it.
If you feel that Common Core has hung you or your child out to dry, Morris Tutoring can help. All of our tutors are former or current certified classroom teachers.