Q&A on the Common Core State Standards
What are the Common Core State Standards?
The Common Core State Standards are a new set of standards that define what students must learn in grades K-12 in English language arts and math.
Who came up with Common Core?
They were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with teachers, school administrators, parents and experts from across the country. The standards were benchmarked against those in the world’s top performing countries, and the goal is to ensure students are better prepared for two- or four-year college programs or for the workforce.
Which states adopted Common Core?
State independently decided whether to adopt the Common Core State Standards. A total of 46 states and the District of Columbia are putting the common standards into practice. The four states that did not were Texas, Virginia, Alaska and Nebraska. Minnesota only adopted the reading standards.
Why did South Carolina adopt Common Core?
The state Education Oversight Committee and the state Board of Education signed off on the state’s adoption of the standards. Some wanted the state to use the standards because they said it would enable South Carolina to compare its students’ results with other states, which has been virtually impossible. It also gave the state a better shot at securing some money in federal grant competitions, such as Race to the Top.
What role did the federal government have in the development of Common Core?
The federal government had no role. Some federal grant competitions, such as Race to the Top, required states to adopt Common Core or similar internationally benchmarked standards and assessments to be eligible for the funds. That was an incentive for some states to use Common Core.
When is Common Core going to be used in South Carolina classrooms?
The standards will be fully implemented in 2014-15. This school year is a bridge year, meaning school districts statewide will use the standards in classroom lessons this year.
How will the standards change what South Carolina students learn?
The state compared the content in the new standards with its current standards and found an overall 97 percent alignment between the two. Although the content is similar, a big difference is the Common Core’s emphasis on rigor and applying knowledge learned. Common Core will require students to think and reason more deeply.
Will the standards change how students are tested?
Yes. The state Board of Education agreed to adopt new tests for the 2014-15 school year that are being developed by the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, a collection of educators, researchers, policymakers and community groups from states nationwide. The new reading and math exams will replace what students know now as the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards, and the new tests could serve as replacements for exit exams and end-of-course tests, if the General Assembly approves that change.
What kind of results can the state expect to see as a result of the Common Core?
It’s too early to say now. Students’ scores in New York and Kentucky have dropped on tests aligned to the state standards, which some say is a more accurate assessment of the degree to which students are being prepared.
Source: The Post and Courier, S.C. Department of Education, corestandards.org, Education Week
Compiled by Diette Courrégé Casey