What is the Common Core

You may have heard your students talking about the Common Core Standards or some form of discussion related to these national standards.  In this article I wanted to address some questions associated with the Common Core.  I have used information from the following web pages.  http://www.corestandards.org/  and http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/   to relate accurate information on Common Core items.

What is the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English language arts and mathematics that states can voluntarily adopt.  These standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce and that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. The standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that our students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace.

Why are the Common Core State Standards for just English-language arts and math?

English-language arts and math were the first subjects chosen for the common core state standards because these two subjects are skills, upon which students build skill sets in other subject areas. They are also the subjects most frequently assessed for accountability purposes.

Of course, other subject areas are critical to young people’s education and their success in college and careers. Once the English-language arts and math standards are developed, CCSSO and NGA Center, on behalf of the states, may develop common core in additional subject areas.

What will these common core state standards mean for students?

The standards will provide more clarity about and consistency in what is expected of student learning across the country. Until now, every state has had its own set of academic standards, meaning public education students at the same grade level in different states have been expected to achieve at different levels. This initiative will allow states to share information effectively and help provide all students with an equal opportunity for an education that will prepare them to go to college or enter the workforce, regardless of where they live. Common standards will not prevent different levels of achievement among students. Rather, they will ensure more consistent exposure to materials and learning experiences through curriculum, instruction, and teacher preparation among other supports for student learning.

How is the Common Core being implemented in the state of Utah?

In June of 2009 the Utah State Board of Education voted to participate in the development of the Common Core Standards in Reading, Language Arts and Mathematics.  This was a state decision and not a federal requirement.

What states have adopted the Common Core Standard and how will testing the standards help students?

All of the states have adopted at least some or part of the Common Core Standards except Alaska, Texas, Virginia, Minnesota and Montana.  With so many states adopting the Common Core Standards it will require textbook companies to publish textbooks aligning with the new Common Core.  When students in the Garfield School District participate in the end of year testing on the CRT test, if these tests are one the Common Core Standards we will then be able to compare how well a student in our district test compared to students in California or New York.   With these comparisons we will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in our local curriculum.

What is the timeline for the implementation of the Common Core?

In language arts for the 2011-2012 school year we will see limited implementation in kindergarten through fifth grade in the elementary and seventh through eleventh grade. In the 2012-2013 school year we will see a full implementation of the new Common Core standards in language arts for all grades from kindergarten through eleventh grade. A pilot test will be given by the state on the new standards in the 2013-2014 school year.   A new CRT test will be in place for language arts in grades K-11 in 2014-2015.

In mathematics the Common Core Standards for the 2011-2012 school year are limited to 6th and 9th grade implementation.  In the 2012-2013 school year the Common Core Standards will be in K-7th and 9th-11th grades. For the 2013-2014 school year we will see implementation in K-12.  A new CRT test on the Common Core Standards will be in place for all grades in the 2014-2015 school year.

As you can see with all the changes coming in the Common Core standards the next four years it will place additional expectations on teachers and parents to help our students achieve their greatest potential in the academic setting.  In order for our students to be able to compete on a national and global level with new testing standards, it will require all of us to work a little harder to make sure our students are prepared for the future careers waiting for them.

For more information on the Common Core please visit the following web page:


If you have suggestions for future articles please visit the GCSD web page and email me your comments.

–Superintendent Ben Dalton

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