Defining Common Core
The set of Common Core Standards, first adopted by some states in 2010, is an education initiative sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that details clear, consistent educational expectations for students in the United States to achieve in each grade (K-12) in the areas of English language arts and mathematics. The Standards emphasize mastering fewer subjects, rather than a basic understanding of several topics; and analyzing and applying information rather than simply recalling it. Teachers, researchers, and design experts across the country collaborated to design and develop these Standards, and each state decides independently whether or not to adopt them.
The goal of the Standards is to help students across all states compete with other students on a national and global scale, and ultimately prepare all graduating high school students for a 2- or 4-year college program, or the workforce. Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska are the only states that have not yet voluntarily adopted any of the Common Core Standards, while Minnesota has only adopted the English language arts standards, so for most U.S. children, this is the new reality in school. View this map to see when each state adopted, or will adopt the standards.
In an effort to bring parents up to speed, most schools distribute a "Parents' Guide" at the start of the school year when they're implementing the Common Core to help explain new terminology and concepts that apply to children's homework.