WASHINGTON – You’ve gotten the school fliers, you’ve probably seen some of the news stories, but you may still be confused and wonder: what the heck is the Common Core?
The Common Core State Standards, are in the words of Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Montgomery County Marty Creel, “a list of what students are supposed to know and do at each grade level.”
Creel explains that since education is a state function, each state board of education was coming up with its own standards.
“Some were really high-level; others weren’t so high-level — and that meant that in one state you wouldn’t have much challenge, in another state you would have a lot of challenge [given to students],” Creel says.
The Common Core State Standards are the result of a collaboration between the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-five states — including Maryland — and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core standards for math and language arts. Virginia, citing its own previously-established Standards of Learning and concerns over federal rulemaking, opted out of the Common Core.
The notion that all states should have the same standards has been met with plenty of opposition. Just as Virginia’s Board of Education cited concerns, so have conservative groups and parents who worry the federal government will be taking over what is supposed to be a state function.
But a three-minute video on the Council of Great City Schools’ website states “local communities will still design their own curriculum” and, in the end, with clearly stated goals and benchmarks, states will produce “confident, well prepared students.”