By the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center)
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) are pleased to present the final Kindergarten-12 Common Core State Standards documents that our organizations have produced on behalf of 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia. These English language arts and mathematics standards represent a set of expectations for student knowledge and skills that high school graduates need to master to succeed in college and careers.
To develop these standards, CCSSO and the NGA Center worked with representatives from participating states, a wide range of educators, content experts, researchers, national organizations, and community groups. These final standards reflect the invaluable feedback from the general public, teachers, parents, business leaders, states, and content area experts and are informed by the standards of other high performing nations.
You will notice that the college- and career-readiness standards have been incorporated into the K-12 standards, as was promised in the March 10, 2010 draft. The criteria that we used to develop the college- and career-readiness standards, as well as these K-12 standards are:
- Aligned with college and work expectations;
- Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
- Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
- Informed by top-performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and,
- Evidence and/or research-based.
The following pages provide more information about the criteria and considerations for standards development. The standards development process has incorporated the best practices and research from across the nation and the world. While we have used all available research to shape these documents, we recognize that there is more to be learned about the most essential knowledge for student success. As new research is conducted and we evaluate the implementation of the common core standards, we plan to revise the standards on a set review cycle. Our organizations would like to thank our advisory group, which provides advice and guidance on this initiative. Additional thanks are also given to the writers of the standards, who devoted countless weekends and late nights to ensuring that the standards meet the high expectations for rigor and clarity.
Common Core State Standards Initiative Standards-Setting Criteria
The following criteria guided the standards development workgroups in setting the draft college and career readiness standards.
Preamble: The Common Core State Standards define the rigorous skills and knowledge in English Language Arts and Mathematics that need to be effectively taught and learned for students to be ready to succeed academically in credit-bearing, college-entry courses and in workforce training programs. These standards have been developed to be:
- Fewer, clearer, and higher, to best drive effective policy and practice;
- Aligned with college and work expectations, so that all students are prepared for success upon graduating from high school;
- Inclusive of rigorous content and applications of knowledge through through higher-order skills, so that all students are prepared for the 21st century;
- Internationally benchmarked, so that all students are prepared for succeeding in our global economy and society; and
- Research and evidence-based.
The standards intend to set forward thinking goals for student performance based in evidence about what is required for success. The standards developed will set the stage for US education not just beyond next year, but for the next decade, and they must ensure all American students are prepared for the global economic workplace. Furthermore, the standards created will not lower the bar but raise it for all students; as such, we cannot narrow the college-ready focus of the standards to just preparation of students for college algebra and English composition and therefore will seek to ensure all students are prepared for all entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses in English, mathematics, the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. The objective is for all students to enter these classes ready for success (defined for these purposes as a C or better).
Goal: The standards as a whole must be essential, rigorous, clear and specific, coherent, and internationally benchmarked.
Essential: The standards must be reasonable in scope in defining the knowledge and skills students should have to be ready to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses and in workforce training programs.
- Workforce training programs pertain to careers that:
- Offer competitive, livable salaries above the poverty line
- Offer opportunities for career advancement
- Are in a growing or sustainable industry
- College refers to two- and four-year postsecondary schools
- Entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses (e.g. English, mathematics, sciences, social sciences, humanities)
Rigorous: The standards will include high-level cognitive demands by asking students to demonstrate deep conceptual understanding through the application of content knowledge and skills to new situations.
High-level cognitive demand includes reasoning, justification, synthesis, analysis, and problem-solving.
Clear and Specific: The standards should provide sufficient guidance and clarity so that they are teachable, learnable, and measurable. The standards will also be clear and understandable to the general public.
Quality standards are precise and provide sufficient detail to convey the level of performance expected without being overly prescriptive. (the “what” not the “how”). The standards should maintain a relatively consistent level of grain size.
Teachable and learnable: Provide sufficient guidance for the design of curricula and instructional materials. The standards must be reasonable in scope, instructionally manageable, and promote depth of understanding.
The standards will not prescribe how they are taught and learned but will allow teachers flexibility to teach and students to learn in various instructionally relevant contexts.
Measureable: Student attainment of the standards should be observable and verifiable and the standards can be used to develop broader assessment frameworks
Coherent: The standards should convey a unified vision of the big ideas and supporting concepts within a discipline and reflect a progression of learning that is meaningful and appropriate.
Grade-by-grade standards: The standards will have limited repetition across the grades or grade spans to help educators align instruction to the standards.
Internationally benchmarked: The standards will be informed by the content, rigor, and organization of standards of high-performing countries so that all students are prepared for succeeding in our global economy and society.
Common Core State Standards Initiative Standards-Setting Considerations
The following considerations guided the standards development workgroups in setting the draft college and career readiness standards.
Fewer, clearer, higher: One of the goals of this process was to produce a set of fewer, clearer and higher standards. It is critical that any standards document be translatable to and teachable in the classroom. As such, the standards must cover only those areas that are critical for student success. This meant making tough decisions about what to include in the standards; however, these choices were important to ensure the standards are useable by teachers.
Evidence: This work has made unprecedented use of evidence in deciding what to include – or not include – in the standards. Each document includes a brief narrative on the choices that were made based on evidence. Rather than focusing on the opinions of experts exclusively, evidence to guide the decisions about what to include in the standards was used. This is a key difference between this process and the processes that have come before.
Internationally benchmarked: These standards are informed by the content, rigor and organization of standards of high-performing countries and states so that all students are prepared to succeed in a global economy and society.
Special populations: In the development of these standards, the inclusion of all types of learners was a priority. Writers selected language intended to make the standards documents accessible to different learners.
Assessment: While an assessment of the common core state standards in not currently being developed, these standards will ultimately be the basis for an assessment system that would include multiple measures of student performance. Once states agree on the final standards, attention will be turned to creating a high quality system of measurement that would include proper incentives for teachers to teach these standards and a variety of assessments that will reinforce teaching and learning tied to the agreed upon expectations.
Standards and curriculum: Standards are not curriculum. This initiative is about developing a set of standards that are common across states. The curriculum that follows will continue to be a local responsibility (or state-led, where appropriate). The curriculum could become more consistent from state to state based on the commonality of the standards; however, there are multiple ways to teach these standards, and therefore, there will be multiple approaches that could help students accomplish the goals set out in the standards.
21st century skills: These documents are not an attempt to demonstrate everything that a student should learn; rather, we have focused on two areas – English-language Arts and Mathematics. The standards have incorporated 21st century skills where possible. They are not inclusive of all the skills students need for success in the 21st Century, but many of these skills will be required across disciplines.