The New York State Education Department adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as a result of the federal Race To The Top (RTT) initiative in 2010. States are not required to adopt the Common Core, which was created by The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
However, the federal government does have a long history of incentivizing programs it believes in, and that is the case with the Common Core. Through the Race to the Top initiative, the federal government has provided financial incentives to states that implement the Common Core.
Common core aims to improve the quality of instruction in our schools and, in turn, improve student performance and college and career readiness. A main goal of the Common Core is to provide educational consistency for students, so that students have access to a high-quality education no matter where they live. The idea is to level the playing field and elevate the quality, so all students have the opportunity to receive an education that prepares them for success in the future.
The curriculum supplied by common core is not meant to control what is taught in school districts, it is simply meant to guide the teaching process and outline what students should be learning – standards and curriculum don’t tell teachers how to teach.
Does Common Core require more testing than before?
The Common Core has meant new, different, more rigorous tests—not more tests. Experts say that good tests are needed to gauge the effectiveness of the standards.
In New York, Common Core was implemented at the same time as the new teacher and principal evaluation system, which requires districts to measure student achievement as a way to in turn measure teacher and principal effectiveness. In order to do this, most districts have instituted a series of internal student assessments, which are in addition to the Common Core tests.
Does Common Core make learning more difficult for students with disabilities and English language learners?
The Common Core does not require cookie-cutter instruction. Students are not expected to learn at the same pace, in the same way, or reach benchmarks at the same time. As always, teachers are able to modify instruction to meet the specific needs of their students.
Common Core is meant to result in fewer topics being covered during classroom lessons, but those topics are meant to be covered more in-depth than they have been in the past. Teachers have more time to cover subjects in greater detail and cover subjects in ways that differentiate instruction for all types of learners. The expectation is that this should give students more time to understand and comprehend what is being taught.
Does Common Core require the state to track unique identifying information about my child?
The Common Core does not require the collection of any data. However, New York (like other states) has a long history of educational data collection and using data to inform everyday teaching and professional development. Districts also traditionally contract with third-party providers and/or vendors that provide various instructional and support services (e.g. transportation, food services, special education). State and federal privacy laws and regulations (like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA) apply to all school district efforts, and New York recently adopted a “Parents’ Bill of Rights for Data Privacy and Security,” which provides additional details on the use of data.
Parents who have questions about the standards or what their child is learning in school should contact their child’s teacher or school principal. A variety of resources about the standards are available to families, including: