Common Core, what is it?


As this new school year begins you will very likely be hearing about the new Common Core standards.  Last Spring I presented a LiteracyAcademy on the California Standards Test, and Common Core is related to those standards.  Until recently every state had their own standards for what students needed to know by the end of each grade.  Many educators felt that there should be consistency in these standards across the country, and so the Common Core standards were developed.  The following explanation from the article, “Common Core State Standards Initiative:  Common Education Standards:  What You Need to Know,” by Sarah Baird, will help you understand these changes, and I will be offering a Literacy Academy later this year to give you more specific information about the standards in the area of literacy, broken down by grade level.

Common Core is not only new to you, but to teachers, principals, and all of those involved in education.  You will be learning about the standards and their implementation along with everyone else.  Feel free to contact me with any questions you have throughout this school year regarding these new standards.


Establishing common education standards is one way we can work to address the disparity between standards to ensure that all children, regardless of geography, socioeconomic status, or life history, receive an education that values their potential.

Common standards are good for students because:

  • They help prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers.
  • They help make transitions smoother for students moving to different states or districts because the learning goals remain consistent.
  • Clearer standards help students understand what is expected of them and allow them to engage in more self-directed learning.

Common standards are good for parents because:

  • They help parents understand exactly what students need to know and be able to do at each step in their education.
  • They help facilitate conversation between parents and teachers about how to help their children reach those education goals.
  • They assure parents that their children have access to the same high-quality education other students receive in other parts of the country.

Common standards are good for teachers because:

  • They allow for more focused professional development and promote collaboration.
  • They can inform the development of a curriculum that promotes deep understanding for all children.
  • They can give educators more time to focus on depth of understanding and richer units of study rather than focusing on “fitting everything in.”

Currently, 48 states and three territories have voluntarily joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative to agree on a common set of standards for all students. Two organizations representing states, the National Governors Association and the Council of ChiefStateSchool Officers, are facilitating the initiative. The standards will be research- and evidence-based and will clearly articulate expectations to parents, teachers, and the general public regarding what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school and at graduation from high school. National PTA has announced its support of the initiative.

The initiative will begin by developing common learning standards for mathematics and language arts. The goal is for these standards to be completed for grades K–12 by 2010, at which point states will begin to adopt them on a voluntary basis.

Student success is the result of the collaborative work of educators, parents, policymakers, and the broader community to better understand what students need to build a promising future. For more information, please visit

Sarah Baird is a national-board-certified K-5 math coach in the KyreneSchool District, Tempe, Arizona. She was named 2009 Arizona Teacher of the Year. Baird is a member of the CommonCoreState Standards Initiative Validation Committee.


About Experience Corps Bay Area

Experience Corps Bay Area recruits and trains adults 50+ to tutor and mentor elementary school children, with a focus on K-3 literacy.
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1 Response to Common Core, what is it?

  1. Gerald Schofield says:

    Thanks, Tara. I look forward to seeing you at the Academy.


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