What Is the Common Core? Top 8 Questions Answered

Demystifying the Common Core Learning Standards

Common Core
Janelle Cox

Many people are unsure about what the Common Core is. This article is meant to answer that question, along with a few of the most frequently asked questions about these learning standards that are being implemented across the United States. Whether you have a job interview that requires knowledge of the standards or are a parent evaluating school options, these questions will help you get a better grasp of the basics of Common Core.

What Are the New Common Core Standards?

The Common Core State Standards are designed to present a clear understanding of what students are supposed to be learning in school. These standards provide parents and teachers more clarity about what is expected of student learning across America.

Why Do We Need These Standards?

The standards aim to ensure that all students will have an equal opportunity for an education. Until Common Core, every state had its own standards. This meant that students in the same grade level, from all across the country, could be expected to learn and achieve at different levels. Common standards among the states help to ensure that students will receive a more consistent education from state to state. Overall, this prepares students with the skills they need to succeed in college and their careers.

Who Is Leading the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

School administrators, teachers and parents from across America are leading the State Standards Initiative, along with the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) and the NGA Center (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices). Across the country, these experts are joining together to develop and implement the Common Core State Standards.

Does This Mean More Standardized Testing?

No. Having a common set of standards among the states does not mean more tests. It just provides states with a better test. Now each state can pool its resources and come up with a set of high-quality tests for all students.

How Do the Standards Impact Teachers?

The Common Core State Standards provide teachers with goals to ensure their students will be successful in school and after graduation. These standards give teachers the opportunity to have their input on whether students are learning according to the standards. Each state will measure how well the standards are working out and guide educators with strategies designed to meet students' needs.

Will These Standards Keep Teachers from Deciding What or How to Teach?

The Common Core State Standards are meant to be a tool to provide teachers with an outline of what their students should know by the end of the school year. Teachers can look at these standards to figure out the skills their students should have, then build their strategies and lessons upon that. Teachers can continue to tailor their instruction based upon their students' needs, and local school boards will continue to make decisions about the curriculum.

What Are the Key Features of the Standards?

  • The reading standards emphasize what students read and the skills they use to read.
  • The writing standards focus on many writing skills and types.
  • The speaking and listening standards require students to develop and use a wide range of interpersonal and oral communication skills.
  • The language standards expect students to learn the essential "rules" of the written and spoken English language.
  • Technology is integrated throughout the standards, and students are expected to learn and use it.
  • The math standards provide students with a solid foundation of math concepts and procedures.

How Can Parents Help at Home?

Parental involvement is key to a child's educational success. Teachers and students are hard at work teaching and learning these important standards. One way to reinforce all that is learned is to get parents involved.

Have parents try these tips at home:

  • Read every night to your child and have them read to you.
  • Practice math facts several times a week to build fact fluency.
  • Practice personal responsibility by having your child be in charge of her homework, books or lunch.
  • Have your child keep a personal journal to reflect on what happened that day.
  • Play educational games several days a week to practice skills he learned in school.

Looking for more information? Check out these common core apps.