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A COMMON UNDERSTANDING: Final K–12 Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics Released on June 2

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“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents have a roadmap for what they need to do to help them.”
A common understanding

On June 2, 2010 the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released the final version of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics at an event held at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia. The standards for grades K–12 were developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators, and parents.

“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents have a roadmap for what they need to do to help them,” said Steve Paine, state superintendent of West Virginia schools and president of CCSSO. “Further, these standards provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live, and allow states to more effectively help all students to succeed.”

The June 2 release event in Georgia featured supporters of the common standards effort from various circles within the education community, including Georgia Governor Sonny PerdueDelaware Governor Jack MarkellFlorida Commissioner of Education Eric J. SmithAmerican Federation of Teachers President Randi WeingartenBaltimore City Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Andres Alonso, and National Education Association Vice President Lily Eskelsen. (Links go to remarks given by the highlighted individual).

The event also featured a panel discussion moderated by Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. During the panel, Leah Luke, a high school Spanish teacher and the Wisconsin 2010 Teacher of the Year, discussed how common standards will be an effective tool in the classroom and noted that the standards were beautiful in their brevity. “It’s not that the standards we’ve had in Wisconsin were bad. It’s just there are so many of them. The sheer number of them has been overwhelming,” she said.

Steve Rohleder, group chief executive of Accenture’s Health and Public Service operating group, brought the perspective of the business community and noted that the United States is losing its competitive advantage on the global stage. However, he added that common standards provide a way for the nation to do something bold and innovative that will be the first step in changing the way the United States competes on a global scale for talent. He also said that whether a state has adopted common standards could play a role in key decisions by businesses.

“If implemented correctly and quickly, [adoption of the Common Core State Standards Initiative] could be the standard that businesses use to relocate,” Rohleder said. “If they’re moving from one state to the next and a state isn’t involved or hasn’t adopted … I think that’s going to be a key criteria.”

Another panelist, Byron V. Garrett, chief executive officer of the National Parent Teacher Association, discussed the long-standing understanding that parents have had about the importance of common standards, especially as they move their children from community to community or from state to state. He said the common standards will “equalize the playing field and [allow parents to] not have to guess or wonder where their child will be in the academic process.”

Additional panel speakers included Michael Wotorson, executive director of the Campaign for High School Equity, who discussed the importance of common standards for the civil rights community and William Bradley Bryant, a member of the Georgia State Board of Education, who talked about the role that state boards of education will play in implementing the standards.

To learn more about the Common Core State Standards Initiative, or to view the final common standards in English language arts and mathematics, go to http://www.corestandards.org/.

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