The “5 Ws” of the Common Core Standards

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Are you a little hazy about what these "Common Core Standards" are that you hear about in the news? Here is a basic rundown of what's involved with them according to the famous "5 Ws":  

1) Who?

The Common Core Standards are a project of the National Governers Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It is considered to be a "state-led" effort because the project was supported by state governers and state departments of education (but not state lawmakers). The federal government did not lead the effort for the Common Core (legally, they're not allowed to!), though they gave $438 million of Stimulus funds toward developing standardized tests around it. Plus, they tied "Race to the Top" federal funding to acceptance of the standards. 

2) What?

The standards consist of grade-level benchmarks for K-12 students in English and math.

3) When?

Curriculums aligned with the Common Core have already been developed, and the standards are still in the process of being implemented. In Minnesota, implementation of the English standardsbegan in 2010, though testing based on the standards only began last year in 2013.  

4) Where?

Both the English and math standards have been accepted in all but 4 states—Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia. Minnesota is unique in that it accepted only the English standards. After all, they just rolled out new math standards in 2008, which state officials maintain are "more rigorous" than the Common Core Standards. Interestingly, some stateshave recently started to balk at full implementation of the standards.

5) Why?

The standards were developed under the guise of having a unified, more clear and rigorous set of education standards that would make America more globally competitive in the future. A 2010 Fordham Institute studyconcluded that the standards were more rigorous than those of three-quarters of U.S. states. However, many other authors and educators have questioned the rigor of the standards.    

What will be the effect of the Common Core Standards on education in Minnesota and beyond? Time will tell. But for now, we hope the above answers some of your initial questions. Stay tuned for more analysis of the various aspects of Common Core on the Better Ed blog!

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