Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a crucial element in the effort to prepare students for success in college and career. The Standards help fulfill the goals of the Grad Nation campaign and serve as a way to measure the progress our country is making towards those goals.

Leaders and experts from states across the country came together to create the Standards, which provide the foundation for an education system that demands excellent teaching, high-quality professional development, rigorous curricula and dynamic assessments. Young people — regardless of their background or location — benefit from a clear set of shared expectations for the knowledge and skills they must master. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia are now implementing the standards in math and English language arts, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Developing the Standards

The Common Core State Standards responded to a problem that became increasingly apparent at least a decade ago. Two- and four-year colleges discovered that even though incoming freshmen had high school degrees, approximately 30 percent of them needed remedial classes in math, English, or both.

As states began working with employers and educators on efforts to make high school graduates college- and career-ready, governors and state superintendents saw the benefits of consistent, state-wide standards. Leaders from 48 states then decided to collaborate on a set of K-12 standards in math and English that would provide all students in the United States a clear pathway to college and career readiness.

In 2009, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers organized the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The new Standards in English and math are grounded in the best standards from states and high-performing nations, frameworks developed for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, academic research, assessment data on college- and career-ready performance, and input from educators. Participants in this voluntary, collective effort included state departments of education, districts, teachers, community leaders, experts in a wide array of fields, and professional organizations. In addition, more than 10,000 people commented on draft versions.

Implementing the Common Core State Standards

States and school districts are now putting the Standards into effect. While the Standards establish the goal for what students should know and accomplish in each grade and by the end of high school, teachers, administrators and schools establish how best to help their students reach the Standards. This arrangement allows for flexibility and creativity in creating lesson plans and tailoring instruction to the needs of students, since local educators know them best.

Economic conditions demands innovative thinking, collaboration, high expectations, and a willingness to learn from the past and move purposefully forward. Educators at all levels — teachers, principals, superintendents — need support as they implement each state’s new standards.