What are The Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core is a set of education standards created to ready graduating high school students for pursuing higher studies or to become a member of the workforce. The entire classroom curriculum revolves around this set of standards. Or, in simpler words:


“The Common Core is what students need to know and be able to do, and curriculum is how students will learn it.”


The Common Core developed through a joint effort led by governors and state education chiefs from 48 states, two territories, and the District of Colombia in 2009. Moreover, all of them were members in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) at that time.
This explicit set of college- and career-ready standards provide guidelines for the course content for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. After recognizing the merit of consistent, real-world learning goals, governors and state school chiefs proposed this standard with hopes that every graduating high school student is ready to face college, career, and life.

Additionally, one of the distinguishing features of the Common Core is that unlike the previous state standards, which varied from state to state, Common Core establishes a healthy collaboration between different states on a variety of tools and schemes. These include:


1. Creating digital media, textbooks, and other teaching materials. 

2. The development and eventual implementation of standardized vast assessment systems that take the place of current state testing systems.

3. The establishment of tools and other supports to help educators and schools ensure that all students are able to learn the new standards.


Adoption of the Common Core State Standards


Loss of Social Control
Photo: Anna Reed/The Orange County Register/

The actual implementation of this set of standards has been fraught with lawsuits, protests, and political debates. To say that a move to completely restructure the American Schooling system has been divisive is an understatement.

Presently, forty-two states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Initially, its implementation in various states started out as quick, but it eventually lost momentum. Also, a minimum of 12 states introduced legislation that prohibited its implementation.

Many teachers were not used to teach using this standard, and students were not used to learning this way either. So the shift from a state standard to Common Core was a difficult one.


Timeline of CCSS


ccss timeline


Is CCSS important?


There was a collective call to establish national standards when a report in 2004, titled Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts, discovered that the expectations of colleges and employees from high school students are higher than before.

The report was published by the American Diploma Project (launched by Achieve, Inc.). It identified a misalignment between the various tests that a student takes throughout the course of their education. This also includes the tests that the students take during their eventual employment/higher studies.


Report findings.


The report goes on to identify the major hurdle that the American school system is facing. It states that high school graduates do not have the skills and knowledge required for flourishing in college or a profession.

According to the report, the value of a high school diploma is severely diminished. This is because the graduates cannot successfully compete beyond high school. As a response to this problem, the report recommended establishing a nation-wide set of rigorous standards.


Common Core State Standards – Math


The mathematic standards contain the knowledge and skills crucial for students to be ready for higher studies, profession, and life. It focuses on a clear group of mathematics skills and concepts. Moreover, they encourage students to work on and solve real-world issues.


The stated aim of this standard is to achieve greater focus and coherence in the curriculum.


The first step in devising the standards was research-based learning progressions. These detail the current information about how a student’s mathematical knowledge, skill, and understanding develop over time.

The Common Core Math Standards strive to provide clarity and specificity. Additionally, the standards ignore open guidelines as much as possible since they often lead to ambiguity in standards. The conceptual understanding of crucial ideas was not the sole focus of these guidelines. Consistently coming back to organizing principles such as place value and the laws of arithmetic to shape those ideas also plays a major role in this standard.


Common Core State Standards ELA


The Common Core State Standards specify the framework for English language arts (ELA). Also, the guidelines for literacy in history/social studies, technical subjects, and science are also.

The students of this century should learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a plethora of content areas. So, in order to prepare high school students for higher studies and careers, the standards promote the necessary literacy skills and concepts.

The teaching imparted in accordance with the Common Core ready high school students for life outside school. This includes inculcating critical-thinking skills. As well as the ability to meticulously read texts such that it helps them understand and enjoy complex works of literature. 

Students also learn cogent reasoning and evidence gathering skills. These are crucial for success in higher studies, employment, and life. The aim of the standards is to produce a truly “literate” person of the 21st century.



Visit the website to read more about education standards and the complete set of CCSS protocols.

Read the full “Ready or Not” report here.

For further reading related to pedagogy and education standards, visit our site.


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