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The Common Core State Standards focus on developing students’ critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. The standards were drafted by experts and teachers from across the country and are designed to ensure students are prepared for today’s entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses, and workforce training programs.
Common Core is not a curriculum that articulates what information needs to be learned but a set of expectations so all students can be successful. This significant difference allows for greater local level decision-making on how students meet those expectations and what materials are used in the classroom. Teachers can respond to student needs to help them grasp the concepts through more direct inquiry, analysis and application. It empowers students to be active learners rather than passive consumers of information in our schools.
The Common Core shifts away from an emphasis on rote memorization and towards deeper comprehension and application.
As a result, The Common Core will not necessarily lead to students learning substantially different information; rather it will push them to learn in different ways. The focus will be on critical thinking and problem solving instead of rote memorization.
California students will have a much greater and more active role in their education. This will mean changes in how they are taught. There are significant changes in English Language Arts and Math with these new Standards.
The Common Core standards were developed by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in collaboration with state officials, teachers, parents and other interested parties across the country to develop model standards in math and English for states to consider. The standards were developed with an eye towards preparing students for college and career, and were internationally benchmarked. Throughout the drafting process, NGA and CCSSO relied on teachers and standards experts from across the country. Over 40 states, including California voluntarily adopted the standards.
California adopted a standards-based accountability system –standards, assessments, and accountability – in the 1990’s. These old standards were considered rigorous, but were also known for being “a mile wide and an inch deep” meaning that they covered a lot of different elements, but didn’t provide enough opportunity to understand and explore the information deeply.
A lot has been learned since then, and state policymakers were debating the best method to update the standards. At the same time, a multi-state effort began to develop what became known as the Common Core Standards in mathematics and English Language Arts. California policymakers determined that these standards addressed some of the key shortcomings with the old California standards, and adopted the Common Core in 2010.
The standards-writers sought to create standards that are: