Common Core: What it is and isnít

As the legislative session gears up for 2014, it’s more important than ever that we stick to the Common Core State Standards that the business community and Greater Oklahoma City Chamber supported when the state Board of Education adopted them in 2010.

Concerns about implementing these standards or testing simply cannot get in the way of the fact that common academic standards are essential to making sure that students nationwide graduate from high school ready for college or work.

Studies have shown that too many students in Oklahoma entering college as freshmen need remedial work – six in 10, according to information provided by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Common Core State Standards are designed to reduce that trend by setting high expectations and clear, consistent goals for learning in English language arts and math, no matter where they live.

We in Oklahoma don’t need to do anything to scale back or halt this process.

A state-led effort developed this list of common academic standards, and to date, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the division of the U.S. Department of Defense that oversees military schools have adopted them, including Oklahoma. (Source: http://www.corestandards.org/in-the-states) The standards not only make sure that students are well prepared for life after high-school graduation but they also will help students moving from one state to another will get a consistent education.

Here are some things that you should know about Common Core and what it is and is not:

  • It is NOT a curriculum.

State and local school districts still have curriculum control.  Common Core is not designed to control curriculum or how teachers implement it. Districts pick the textbooks, and teachers still decide what to teach and the best way their students should learn.

  • It is NOT testing.

Each state is responsible for coming up with its own way of monitoring how students are doing. Some have joined forces to share resources; others, like Oklahoma, are developing their own methods of assessing progress. In either case, teachers are free to teach concepts for children to learn. While testing may help these states determine whether its students are on track with the Common Core goals, assessment is NOT part of the Common Core. That is up to each state to decide.

  • It is NOT a liberal or conservative issue, nor is it the federal government’s attempt to nationalize education.

The Common Core academic standards were developed by a broad group of people on both sides of the political aisle, led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief of State School Officers. The bipartisan, state-led group also included input from teachers, parents, school administrators and other experts nationwide.

  • Common Core IS a way to set high expectations for our nation’s students.

These standards give school leaders and teachers across the country an understanding of what students should learn and by when, and they come with high expectations. The standards focus on deep thinking and analysis. Students learn to master core skills and analyze and apply them instead of simply memorizing facts to be forgotten later. (Source: http://www.corestandards.org/resources/frequently-asked-questions )

With Common Core, states are taking action to ensure students’ future success. We can’t let Oklahoma students fall behind them by abandoning this progress now. The Chamber and the business community urge the Legislature to continue the progress we have made in education by supporting Common Core State Standards.

For more information, go online to the Chamber’s website, okcchamber.com/commoncore, and to the Expect More OK! Coalition’s website, http://expectmoreoklahoma.org. This coalition is a broad coalition of businesses, educators, parents and community leaders that are working together to protect these state education standards.