What are educational standards?
Educational standards help teachers ensure their students have
the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing
clear goals for student learning.
Why do we need educational standards?
We need standards to ensure that all students, no matter where
they live, are prepared for success in postsecondary education and
the workforce. Common standards will help ensure that students are
receiving a high quality education consistently, from school to
school and state to state. Common standards will provide a greater
opportunity to share experiences and best practices within and
across states that will improve our ability to best serve the needs
Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help
teachers figure out the knowledge and skills their students should
have so that teachers can build the best lessons and environments
for their classrooms. Standards also help students and parents by
setting clear and realistic goals for success. Standards are a first
step – a key building block – in providing our young people with a
high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college
and work. Of course, standards are not the only thing that is needed
for our children’s success, but they provide an accessible roadmap
for our teachers, parents, and students.
How are educational standards determined
Each state has its own process for developing, adopting, and
implementing standards. As a result, what students are expected to
learn can vary widely from state to state.
Is having common standards the first step
toward nationalizing education?
No. The Common Core State Standards are part of a state-led
effort to give all students the skills and knowledge they need to
succeed. The federal government was not involved in the development
of the standards. Individual states choose whether or not to adopt
What is the Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort
to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English
language arts and mathematics that states can voluntarily adopt. The
standards have been informed by the best available evidence and the
highest state standards across the country and globe and designed by
a diverse group of teachers, experts, parents, and school
administrators, so they reflect both our aspirations for our
children and the realities of the classroom. These standards are
designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are
prepared to go to college or enter the workforce and that parents,
teachers, and students have a clear understanding of what is
expected of them. The standards are benchmarked to international
standards to guarantee that our students are competitive in the
emerging global marketplace.
Why is the Common Core State Standards
We want to make sure that every child across the country is given
the tools they need to succeed. High standards that are consistent
across states provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of
clear expectations that everyone can work toward together. This will
ensure that we maintain America’s competitive edge, so that all of
our students are well prepared with the skills and knowledge
necessary to compete with not only their peers here at home, but
with students from around the world.
These standards are a common sense first step toward ensuring our
children are getting the best possible education no matter where
Of course, standards cannot single-handedly improve the quality of
our nation’s education system, but they do give educators shared
goals and expectations for their students. For example, the common
core state standards will enable participating states to work
- Make expectations for students clear to parents, teachers,
and the general public;
- Encourage the development of textbooks, digital media, and
other teaching materials aligned to the standards;
- Develop and implement comprehensive assessment systems to
measure student performance against the common core state
standards that will replace the existing testing systems that
too often are inconsistent, burdensome and confusing; and
- Evaluate policy changes needed to help students and
educators meet the standards.
Who is leading the Common Core State
Parents, teachers, school administrators and experts from across
the country together with state leaders, through their membership in
the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA
Center) are leading the effort to develop a common core of state
In addition, CCSSO and the
NGA Center have provided public comment
periods for everyone to submit feedback on the draft standards
documents. Those comments have been incorporated into the final
How will states adopt the common core
The process of state standards adoption depends on the laws of
each state. Some states are adopting the standards through their
state boards of education, while others are adopting them through
their state legislatures.
Will the common core state standards keep
local teachers from deciding what or how to teach?
No. The Common Core State Standards are a clear set of shared
goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our
students succeed. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and
others will decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers will
continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the
individual needs of the students in their classrooms. Local
teachers, principals, superintendents, and school boards will
continue to make decisions about curriculum and how their school
systems are operated.
Were teachers involved in the creation of
Yes. Teachers have been a critical voice in the development of
the standards. The National Education Association (NEA),
American Federation of Teachers (AFT),
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM),
and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE),
among other organizations have been instrumental in bringing
together teachers to provide specific, constructive feedback on the
We encourage teachers and practitioners to submit comments and
feedback on the standards through the web site corestandards.org.
Does having common standards lead to
dumbing down the standards across the board?
Not at all. The Common Core State Standards have been built from
the best and highest state standards in the country. They are
evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include
rigorous content and skills, and are informed by other top
performing countries. They were developed in consultation with
teachers and parents from across the country so they are also
realistic and practical for the classroom. Far from looking for the
“lowest common denominator,” these standards are designed to ensure
that all students, regardless of where they live, are learning what
they need to know to graduate from high school ready for college or
Will more standards mean more tests?
No. For states that choose to adopt these common standards,
having one set of standards will make it easier for states to pool
information and resources to develop a shared set of high-quality
tests to better evaluate student progress. The goal is not to have
more tests, but to have smarter and better tests that help students,
parents, and teachers.
What is the appropriate way to cite the
Common Core State Standards?
Authors: National Governors Association Center for Best
Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers
Title: Common Core State Standards (insert specific content area if
you are using only one)
Publisher: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices,
Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington D.C.
Copyright Date: 2010
What makes this process different from
other efforts to create common standards?
This process is different because it is state-led, and has the
support of educators across the country as well as prominent
education, business, and state leaders’ organizations, including
CCSSO, the NGA
Center, Achieve, Inc, ACT, the College
Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the
Alliance for Excellent Education, the Hunt Institute, the National
Parent Teacher Association, the State Higher Education Executive
Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the
Are these national standards?
The federal government was NOT involved
in the development of the standards. This has been a state-led and
driven initiative from the beginning. States will voluntarily adopt
the standards based on the timelines and context in their state.
Who or what entity determines the common
core state standards?
CCSSO and the NGA
Center led the standards’ development process in consultation with
teachers, parents, experts and administrators. To ensure that this
process is open, inclusive, and rigorous, several working groups and
committees have been formed.
They include the:
Standards Development Work Group – responsible for
determining and writing the common core state standards.
Feedback Group – provides information backed by research to
inform the standards development process by offering expert
input on draft documents.
Validation Committee – nominated by states and national
organizations and selected by a group of 12 governors and chiefs
who hold leadership positions at NGA
Center and CCSSO. These independent,
national education experts will review the common core state
standards to ensure they meet the development criteria.
By what criteria are the standards being
The standards are being developed by the following criteria:
- Aligned with expectations for college and career success
- Clear, so that educators and parents know what they need to
do to help students learn
- Consistent across all states, so that students are not
taught to a lower standard just because of where they live
- Include both content and the application of knowledge
through high-order skills
- Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards
and standards of top-performing nations
- Realistic, for effective use in the classroom
- Informed by other top performing countries, so that all
students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and
- Evidence and research-based criteria have been set by
states, through their national organizations
CCSSO and the NGA Center.
What grade levels will be included in the
common core state standards?
The English-language arts and math standards are for grades K-12.
Research from the early childhood and higher education communities
have also informed the development of the standards.
What does this work mean for students with
disabilities and English language learners?
Common standards will provide a greater opportunity for states to
share experiences and best practices within and across states that
can lead to an improved ability to best serve young people with
disabilities and English language learners. Additionally, the K-12
English language arts and mathematics standards include information
on application of the standards for English language learners and
students with disabilities.
Why are the Common Core State Standards
for just English-language arts and math?
English-language arts and math were the first subjects chosen for
the common core state standards because these two subjects are
skills, upon which students build skill sets in other subject areas.
They are also the subjects most frequently assessed for
Of course, other subject areas are critical to young people’s
education and their success in college and careers. However, the
NGA Center and CCSSO
will not be developing standards in other subjects and are now
focusing on implementing the standards in ELA
Will these standards incorporate both
content and skills?
Both content and skills are important and have been incorporated
in the common core state standards. One of the criteria by which the
standards will be evaluated is whether or not they include rigorous
content and application of knowledge through high-order thinking
Implementation and Future Work
What will these common core state
standards mean for students?
The standards will provide more clarity about and consistency in
what is expected of student learning across the country. Until now,
every state has had its own set of academic standards, meaning
public education students at the same grade level in different
states have been expected to achieve at different levels. This
initiative will allow states to share information effectively and
help provide all students with an equal opportunity for an education
that will prepare them to go to college or enter the workforce,
regardless of where they live. Common standards will not prevent
different levels of achievement among students. Rather, they will
ensure more consistent exposure to materials and learning
experiences through curriculum, instruction, and teacher preparation
among other supports for student learning. In a global economy,
students must be prepared to compete with not only their American
peers in the next state, but with students from around the world.
These standards will help prepare students with the knowledge and
skills they need to succeed in college and careers.
How will these standards impact teachers?
The standards will provide important goals for teachers to ensure
they are preparing students for success in college and the
workforce. They will help teachers develop and implement effective
strategies for their students by providing benchmarks for skills and
knowledge that their students should have by the end of the year.
The common core state standards will help colleges and professional
development programs better prepare teachers; provide the
opportunity for teachers to be involved in the development of
assessments linked to these top-quality standards; allow states to
develop and provide better assessments that more accurately measure
whether or not students have learned what was taught; and guide
educators toward curricula and teaching strategies that will give
students a deep understanding of the subject and the skills they
need to apply their knowledge.
Will the Common Core State Standards be
Yes. There will be an ongoing state-led development process that
can support continuous improvement of the standards.
Will common assessments be developed?
Like adoption of common core standards, it will be up to the
states: some states plan to come together voluntarily to develop a
common assessment system, based on the common core state standards.
A state-led consortium on assessment would be grounded in the
following principles: allow for comparison across students, schools,
districts, states and nations; create economies of scale; provide
information and support more effective teaching and learning; and
prepare students for college and careers.
Will CCSSO and
NGA Center be playing a role in the
implementation process, such as creating common instructional
materials and curricula?
The release of the final Common Core State Standards marks a
historic moment in time. However, the NGA
Center and CCSSO recognize that state
adoption of the Common Core does not signify the conclusion of
standards work. States that have adopted the Common Core must now
turn their attention to the critical work of ensuring that
implementation of the standards is carried out thoughtfully.
To that end, the NGA Center and
CCSSO are committed to assisting state
policymakers in the following ways:
- Developing a State Policymaker Guide to Implementation of
the Common Core State Standards, which will provide state
policymakers with the key areas that require attention and work
as states transition to the standards;
- Convening organizations to facilitate conversations about
the standards’ implementation so states, districts and teachers
have the tools they need and providing opportunities for groups
with similar activities to collaborate;
- Planning and implementing the future governance structure of
the Common Core State Standards Initiative; and
- Convening the publishing community to ensure that high
quality materials aligned with the standards are created.
What is the role of the federal government
in standards implementation?
The federal government has had no role in the development of the
common core state standards and will not have a role in their
However, the federal government will have the opportunity to support
states as they begin adopting the standards. For example, the
federal government can
- Support this effort through a range of tiered incentives,
such as providing states with greater flexibility in the use of
existing federal funds, supporting a revised state
accountability structure, and offering financial support for
states to implement the standards.
- Provide long-term financial support for the development and
implementation of common assessments, teacher and principal
professional development, and research to help continually
improve the common core state standards over time.
- Revise and align existing federal education laws with the
lessons learned from the best of what works in other nations and
Who will manage (or own) the Common Core
State Standards Initiative in the future?
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was and will remain a
state-led effort. In addition to supporting effective implementation
of the Common Core, NGA and
CCSSO are committed to developing a
long-term governance structure with leadership from governors, chief
state school officers, and other state policymakers.