One of the hottest topics right now in the field of politics and education is the Common Core — that set of college- and career-ready standards for students from kindergarten through 12th grade that were developed by education leaders and governors from 48 states.
In one state — Louisiana — the topic is so hot that its governor recently went to court asserting he’s protected from questioning under oath in a legal dispute over his administration’s actions that are said to undermine the Common Core standards in that state.
With a focus on English language arts, literacy and math, most states (43) have adopted the standards, with a goal of ensuring high school grads are ready for college courses or can successfully enter the workforce.
They are distinct from previous state standards in that a non-state organization created them for all states to use rather than each state deciding to use their own. The advantage was to eliminate a variety of standards and improve the quality across many states.
I once attended a National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) event where Vicki Phillips, director of education for the Gates Foundation, suggested that teachers need a common set of tools to reference if we are going to take advantage of teacher effectiveness research. For Vicki Phillips, Common Core answers the question: Effective toward what end?
Proponents of the Common Core believe that teaching toward these standards will better prepare students for college level work and entry into career pathways and civic engagement. In their view, the added value of establishing some national continuity serves all students across the United States to the degree that states voluntarily adopt the standards. For the supporters, the quality of the standards and the consistency of adoption from state to state make the Common Core the greatest lever for educational reform.