Understanding Common Core State Standards

Common Core State Standards are a shared set of evidence based national standards developed through state led initiatives.  They were designed to have fewer, simplified standards. These standards will be more rigorous than most states’ current standards.  They were created by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. Officials from 48 states participated in the process to develop the standards over several years. Over 45 states in the US have adopted new core State Standards

Goals of Common Core:

The goal of Common Core Standards is to ensure that students are prepared for college and the workforce.  The new, broader standards emphasize communication, high order thinking, creativity, technology critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and career readiness.

Components of English and
Math Standards

There are five key components to English and Language Arts standards: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language, and Media and Technology. The stated goal of mathematics standards is to achieve greater focus and coherence in the curriculum.  Mathematic standards include a separate focus on mathematical practice and content.  Your State Department of Education web site should provide a specific list the standards adopted by your school district and state.


According to the Common Core State Standards initiative, formal assessment is expected to take place in the 2014–2015 school year, which coincides with the projected implementation year for most states. The assessment is being created by two consortiums with different approaches. The PARCC RttT Assessment Consortium comprises the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. Their approach focuses on computer-based "through-course assessments" in each grade together with streamlined end-of-year tests. PARCC refers to "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers" and RttT refers to the Race to the Top. The second consortium, called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, comprises 31 states focusing on creating "adaptive online exams". States using Smarter Balance include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire.

Training Opportunities

Since the new standards were developed in a learning progression from grade to grade, IEP goals should be connected from year to year rather than be sets of unrelated and fragmented skills. The IEP team determines if a student should take State or District Assessments of pupil achievement.  If the IEP team feels assessment is not appropriate, the IEP should state the reason that the student cannot participate in the regular assessment as well as the reason why an alternative assessment is appropriate.

Most districts are offering trainings and community forums to parents wishing to further understand the implementation of the new standards.  I recommend checking your school district’s web site or contacting them to see what opportunities are being offered to your community.

You can read the specific standards at the Core Standards web site.