The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a major K-12 educational reform movement in the United States. The following free book provides an introduction to this initiative:
Moursund, D., & Sylwester, R, eds. (March, 2013). Common Core State Standards for K-12 Education in America. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education.
The book is intended for preservice and inservice teachers, parents, teachers of teachers, school administrators, politicians, and others who are interested in K-12 education. For another free book by the same authors, see Sylwester & Moursund (August 2012).
The Common Core State Standards Initiative began in 2010 and is addressing English Language Arts, Math, Science, and History/Social Science (CCSS, 2012). The Mission Statement of the CCSS Initiative is:
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what [precollege] students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy (CCSS, 2010).
It is important to realize that a set of curriculum standards and a set of goals for education are two very different things. In some sense, a set of goals provides a foundation for education. A set of standards with details on implementing and assessing the standards is an attempt to turn foundational goals/ideas into practice. The Moursund and Sylwester book contains an extensive appendix, Goals for Education in the United States.
Strengths and Weaknesses of CCSS
The overarching goal of the CCSS Initiative is to establish uniform standards on curriculum content and assessment throughout the country. The standards have been widely adopted. Tests are being developed to be used as summary assessment instruments in meeting the standards. Individual states are allowed to add to the standards within their states and can develop additional assessment instruments for the content areas they add.
I believe the establishment of relatively uniform standards throughout the country is a strength. We are a very mobile society. In addition, distance learning is becoming an important component of the curriculum. Uniform standards can be applied to courses that are developed for widespread distribution across the nation.
I am troubled by what I consider to be several major weaknesses in the standards being developed.
- Justifications for the CCSS Initiative are a combination of arguments that our students are not doing as well as we would like on international tests, and our students are not being as well prepared as we would like for college and careers (Zhao, 2/7/2012). American K-12 education has many important goals other than just preparing students for international tests, college, and careers.
- The standards that are being developed fail to adequately reflect the current and rapidly changing impacts of artificial intelligence, genetics and genomes, medical technology, nanotechnology, and many other components of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines on curriculum content, instructional processes, and assessment. I believe that the standards should be much more future-oriented (Moursund, 2013).
- The standards place little emphasis on preparing students to deal with the major global problems they and their world face. Examples include disease, fresh water shortage, global warming, hunger, over-population, pollution, poverty, sustainability, and terrorism/war.
The Book is a “Work in Progress”
The book will be updated from time to time as new chapters become available. The newest version of the book can be accessed at the Website given in Moursund and Sylwester (March, 2013).
What You Can Do
The CCSS is well along toward achieving very wide implementation. Learn how CCSS is affecting or will affect you, your students, colleagues, and others. Make a conscious decision to:
- Support parts of the initiative that you believe will help to improve our educational system.
- Work to improve or delete parts of the initiative that you think are weak or inappropriate.
Algebra 2: Not the Same Credential It Used to Be? See http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/09/algebra_2_not_the_same_credential_it_used_to_be.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2. See the last part of the articlefor a discussionof CCSS.
CCSS (2010). Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved 3/28/2013 from http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards.
CCSS (2012). Statements of support. Retrieved 3/28/2013 from http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/statements-of-support.
Moursund, D. (2013). What the future is bringing us. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 3/28/2013 from http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us.
Moursund, D., and Sylwester, R., eds. (March 2013). Common Core State Standards for K-12 Education in America. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. See http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/249-common-core-state-standards-for-k-12-education-in-america.html for the Microsoft Word document and http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/248-common-core-state-standards-for-k-12-education-in-america.html for the PDF.
Zhao, Y. (2/7/2012). Mass localization for improving America’s schools. Kappa Delta Pi Record. Retrieved 2/23/2013 from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00228958.2012.654714.
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you:
A new free book about high-stakes testing. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/a-free-book-about-high-stakes-tests.html.
Assessment of the new math standards. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/assessment-of-the-new-math-standards.html.
Are we missing the point of high-states assessment? See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/are-we-missing-the-point-of-effective-assessment.html.
Sylwester, R. and Moursund, D. Eds. (August 2012). Creating an appropriate 21st century education. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/243-creating-an-appropriate-21st-century-education.html and the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/242-creating-an-appropriate-21st-century-education.html.
Two brains are better than one. See http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One.