States made the decision in August 2010 whether to adopt the “Common Core,” core standards that would span grade levels K-12 and replace the national standards that had existed before.
Along with integrating 85% of the Common Core to its standards, as was required for states that adopted the Common Core, California added on another 15% to ensure the rigor of the standards.
The Common Core standards are only written for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, though other core areas of the curriculum involve reading and writing as well. With the Common Core, ELA concentrates more on non-fiction/informational text and writing for high school, while mathematics further emphasizes the understanding of math concepts such as algebra, functions, modeling, geometry, and statistics and probability. Further differences between the past math standards and the Common Core standards include a shift in the grade level for the mastery of some skills and the rearrangement of the standards. State assessments designed to test the Common Core standards in ELA and math will focus on problem solving and application of knowledge rather than simply multiple choice questions in order to show comprehension of the material.
According to Leslie Anderson, Assistant Superintendent of Castro Valley Unified School District, the Common Core standards were introduced due to the desire to have uniform expectations nationwide. They are “internationally benchmarked” and are based on college and career anchor standards, intended to help students become more competitive in the global economy.
“I believe that the Common Core will help us all work in the same direction and expand the critical thinking and application of the learning throughout our system,” said Anderson. “These standards cannot help but increase the success of students in high school because they address high levels of student engagement and focus on application of skills in real world situations, not just learning facts.”
Anderson predicts that the state standards will not change again for a while, for there has been a great deal of energy associated with this modification.
“There is a critical mass effort to ensure positive impact on students and their future,” Anderson concluded.