State Standards! Common Core Standards! College and Career preparedness for all! Rigor in academics! Reading by third grade! What does all of this mean for our children? States have pretty much always determined how many “seat hours” a student needed to graduate from a public high school, but the content of what children were taught was left to local entities. Now many of these decisions are made in state legislatures and Congress.

Minnesota has a set of language arts and math standards, developed in 2003 through legislation, that align with the state MCA tests (MN Comprehensive Assessments). These standards are now on a “review and revision” cycle overseen by the Minnesota Department of Education.

In addition, now there is a national initiative for academic standards called Common Core Standards, which “were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce (from the Common Core Standards Initiative website).

Not everyone shares this view. In 2009, Minnesota accepted the Common Core Language Arts standards, but has yet to accept the math standards. There are interesting conversations to be had about the acceptance of a national set of school standards.

Academics is a huge issue because it deals with what our children are taught – or not taught – each day: in science, social studies, language arts, math, the arts, physical education, whether they are taught a second language. And what coursework will provide them the skills they need in the 21st century and access to college and career readiness? Whew! It’s a lot to think about – but so important. We will try to help make it a bit more understandable and present pros and cons – so don’t be afraid to wade in!


Can the Common Core State Standards transform teaching and raise student achievement? The Hechinger Report and the Education Writers Association looked at seven states in-depth.

Graduation Requirements – Minnesota Department of Education.

Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards – Access the documents that lay out the standards and benchmarks students are expected to master by grade level, Minnesota Department of Education.

Aiming higher with the Common Core standards

Minnesota’s required graduation standards – Parents United’s resources

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