Common Core Communications

By Nora Carr

A quiet revolution is under way in American education, and it’s about more than massive budget cuts, pay for performance, and alternatives to traditional public schools. The revolution even has a name -- the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

More closely aligned with international norms, the standards were developed during a year-long process involving content experts, state officials, teachers, school administrators, and parents. A centerpiece of the Obama administration’s education reform policies, they were announced in June 2010. So far, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the new standards for English language arts and mathematics.

The standards outline what students should learn at every grade level, giving states a common platform for goals and measures, but do not dictate the curriculum districts must use or teachers’ instructional methods.

For most states, the new standards represent a major leap forward in terms of academic rigor. A report issued recently by the Center for Education Policy (CEP) in Washington, D.C., shows that about three-fifths of participating states view the new standards as more rigorous than those currently in use.

Many districts and communities are accustomed to lower state standards and higher test scores, so getting educators, students, parents, and others ready for what’s coming represents a major communications challenge -- and an educational imperative. As with other major change initiatives, doing so requires a systemic approach.

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