Background on the Common Core State Standards

High School Graduation

Houston ISD/Dave Einsel:

Common Core State Standards for Student Success

In spring 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) began work on the Common Core State Standards initiative, a state-led effort to establish a shared set of academic standards for English language arts and mathematics.

The Common Core State Standards differ from most current standards in several ways:

  • They aspire to define college- and career-ready expectations for all students.
  • They attempt to express both rigorous content and how to apply that content.
  • They focus on fewer concepts.
  • They are internationally benchmarked so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society.

The federal government was not involved in developing the Common Core standards. Common Core was:

  • Developed by associations representing governors and state education leaders;
  • Funded with private money;
  • Provided free of charge to every state that chooses to participate; and
  • Not debated nor endorsed by Congress.

Despite the lack of federal involvement in developing the Common Core standards, the U.S. Department of Education has supported them by:

  • Promoting them as part of an overarching goal to produce high school graduates who are both college- and career-ready.
  • Providing incentives to states for adopting the Common Core in the competition for Race to the Top (RTTT) grants and in granting No Child Left Behind waivers.

The federal government has also taken a major role in implementation by funding state consortia that are overseeing the development of next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core standards. The consortia are supported with $417 million in federal Race to the Top grant funds.

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