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What are common core standards?

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Quick Answer

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, known as Common Core, is a set of academic quality standards in mathematics and English language arts. Common Core outlines what students should know at the completion of each K-12 grade year.

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A push for a national initiative began to develop in the 1990s, but would not begin to take its current form until 2009. The standards are licensed by the Council of Chief State School Officers through the Department of Education.

Common Core was developed by state education chiefs and governors from 48 states. The purpose was to create a set of clear, consistent guidelines to help prepare students for college or a career upon graduation from high school. While the definition of Common Core is nationwide, the implementation of Common Core is done at state and local levels. Initially, almost all of the states adopted it, but some have since formerly withdrawn or had it repealed, such as Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. At present only Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia have never adopted any of the standards.

The Common Core standard for English language arts, or ELA, establishes the guidelines for ELA, as well as history/social studies, science and technical subjects. Nonlanguage classes are part of the ELA standard, because each child must learn to read, write, listen, speak and use language effectively to communicate about each subject. Teachers are guided to use the subjects to strengthen the ELA skills of students.

The math standards of Common Core strive to provide conceptual understanding of key ideas while continually returning to topics of organizing principles, such as place value.The standards build upon math standards from across the United States and international models. Standards for the sixth to eighth grade include the number system, geometry, expressions and equations and statistics and probability. The standards are more flexible in the content of high school classes.

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