6 Crucial Facts You Should Know About Common Core

Although the Common Core State Standards Initiative, or Common Core, became a controversial topic in early 2014 and has continued to be a topic of debate, the truth is that many people still don’t even understand what it is, or where it came from.

So, what exactly is the Common Core, and how will it affect the future of education?

To help clear up matters, we’ve compiled a list of crucial facts we thought you should know about the Common Core.

1. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is not a federally imposed curriculum.
Although the Common Core standards were supported by the Obama administration, they were not and have never been mandated by the government. It is also not a curriculum, but an initiative that outlines what students ought to know at the end of each grade. In fact, the Common Core has existed as a state-led initiative since its conception.

2. Adopting the Common Core will not force any states with high standards to lower their standards.
Because Common Core works towards universally high standards throughout the United States, some mistakenly believe that this means that some states will have to lower their standards to promote universality. However, there is an explicit agreement that no state will have to lower their educational standards. The Common Core’s goal is to raise standards universally, not to make any states take steps backwards.

3. The Common Core standards are heavily research-based.
Many of the standards listed on the Common Core website are the culmination of over a decade of research. Standards from the best-performing countries influence the development of the Common Core’s mathematics and English language arts standards. The standards are continuously in the process of development, and make good use of a growing body of evidence.

4. The Common Core promotes the prioritization of critical and analytical reading skills.
While this does not necessarily de-emphasize the importance of literature, it does mean that literature will be less present in the classroom. The Common Core currently requires that by Grade 12, 70 percent of reading assignments across all subjects use informational texts and 30 percent use literary ones. This does not mean that literature will be less valued, as the Common Core outlines an extensive literary foundation. The idea is that unless there is a surge in college students studying literature, Common Core will continue to supplement the lack of an analytical reading foundation.

5. The Common Core promotes collaborative efforts for both students and teachers.
According to multiple teachers across the country, the Common Core has had positive impacts on the way students collaborate. It also encourages the teachers to collaborate across state lines in order to maximize students’ potential. Because the Common Core encourages teachers to construct curricula best suited for the classroom and flexibility when teaching concepts. This flexibility ultimately translates into more creative, collaborative, and alternative ways for students to solve problems.

6. The Common Core does not mandate more student testing.
Although new testing will be implemented in order to assess student progress, it will replace current standardized testing. Because the transition to Common Core in some areas is not complete, there is pressure on teachers to uphold both former standards and the Common Core Standards. While in transition, some states are adjusting the link between teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests.

Groups from both ends of the political spectrum have found commonalities in their criticism of Common Core, and diverse political constituencies have been blended to oppose it. This includes individuals and groups ranging from right-wing billionaires to parent-teacher organizations in overwhelmingly liberal states. Some conservatives see the government’s support and backing of Common Core as another example of the government violating state rights, while certain liberals believe it to be too focused on standardized testing and that it discourages creativity.

Where do you stand on the great Common Core debate? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter or Facebook.

Read (and listen to) the rest of our “Demystifying Common Core” series:

Common Core Revisions: What Are States Really Changing?

State of Education: Interview with TeachPlus Teachers About Common Core

Why Teachers Should Take the Lead on Implementing New Educational Standards

Employers Think Applicants Lack Real World Job Skills, According to New Poll Conducted by the MBAE

Welcoming Parents to the State Standards Conversation: Interview with Ranjini Govender, Stand for Children Massachusetts

Beyond Learning, Beyond Standards: Author Marc Prensky Shares His Achievement-Based Vision for Education

Or listen to the full podcast series on SoundCloud or iTunes.

Jocelyn Bermudez

Jocelyn Bermudez

Jocelyn is a freelance writer originally from sunny South Florida, where she was the Managing Editor of Axis Creative Arts Magazine and a Senior Academic Mentor at United Mentors. She is currently a student at Emerson College, where she spends her time refining her writing skills when she isn’t preparing for the famous New England winters.