Standards are not the curriculum. Standards define what students should know and be able to do –– serving as aguideline in the development of curriculum. A curriculum, on the other hand, is developed by teachers and guides theactual teaching and learning processes that take place in classrooms across the state and nation.
The Common Core State Standards
lay out the expectations for what knowledge and skills students need, grade bygrade and subject by subject, in English language arts and mathematics. They are the product of a state-led initiativebetween the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. They reflect a commoninterest in having consistent standards across the states to ensure that all students graduate from high school –– nomatter their ZIP code –– prepared to succeed in whatever endeavors they pursue. The Southern Regional EducationBoard supports the Common Core State Standards for three reasons.1.
. The CCSS raise the bar on previous state standards by focusing on what students needto know, grade by grade, so they are ready for a wide range of good paying career options when theygraduate from high school –– many of which will require that students pass an industry exam or earn anindustry certification or two-year degree.2.
Clear goals for students
. The consistent and specific standards framework helps states ensure that publicschool students are prepared for the future when they leave high school, no matter where they live or go toschool.3.
Increased focus on the classroom
. Adopting a common set of standards means that states can focus theirresources and efforts on
supporting schools as they teach students
. In doing so, states can provide teacherswith professional training that will help them teach students to think creatively and critically across subjectsand grade levels. This kind of high-quality professional development can ensure students’ academic successfrom prekindergarten through high school and postsecondary education and into the workforce. The
CCSS English language arts standardsraise the bar by emphasizing that students learn to read and comprehendtext effectively in individual subject areas.
Because of the emphasis on reading and literacy within the disciplines, the Common Core State Standardsbring greater strength to social studies and the sciences and ensure that teachers in other disciplines focus onreading and writing to build knowledge within their subject areas.
The standards focus on mastering complex texts to ensure that schools prepare students to read, write andresearch in all subjects, including history and the sciences. TheCCSS mathematics standardsreflect the need for a math curriculum that is focused on raising studentachievement by preparing students to understand and apply math skills.
The math standards stress not only procedural skill (how to manipulate the numbers to solve a problem) butalso conceptual understanding (what it all means) to make sure students are learning and thinking critically sothey can succeed at higher levels in math and in other subjects that require mathematical thinking.
The high school math standards call on students to
practice applying mathematical ways of thinking on real-world issues and challenges
–– a critical need in the rapidly evolving and technological job market.
Changing How Teachers Teach and Students Learn
In Georgia, the transition from Georgia Performance Standards to Common Core State Standards requires students toconcentrate more on reading and writing as a way to learn and apply content knowledge in science, social studies andEnglish language arts and math. A social studies teacher at Kendrick High School in Columbus, Georgia, believes thatthis switch has “enabled her students to think critically and discuss various texts we read and study for each unit.”