Common Core Standards

The Common Core State Standards have developed over the last three years in the landscape of U.S. education. Created by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the intent was to create benchmarks for learning at each grade level – in math and English language arts (reading and writing).

Applied nationwide, the idea behind Common Core is to better prepare and compare student learning as children progress from Kindergarten through 12th grade and beyond. The standards are not a curriculum, but rather a set of benchmarks that illustrate what children at various grade levels should know and do. It is still up to districts and their teachers to determine how best to help students reach the standards.

All but four states in the nation have adopted at least one of the Common Core standards. Minnesota has moved forward with adopting the standards in language arts, but not in math, as Minnesota’s current standards in math were deemed more rigorous than the new standards. The standards are intended to move learning to a higher level, away from memorization toward more high level thinking and reasoning.

Common Core has come under fire from some, as its implementation is not without controversy and politicization, and critics abound from both the political Left and Right. Will states lose autonomy? Will Common Core promote more testing pressure? Will teacher evaluation be tied to these outcomes, and can they be accurately measured by standardized tests if they are indeed more complex skills? Will enough time and training be given to teachers to successfully adapt? Is it equitable to tie federal education dollars to state outcomes on these tests?

Time Magazine provides a concise overview of the history and purpose of Common Core, as well as a look at the challenges and successes of implementation experienced by Kentucky, the first state to adopt the higher standards.

What might we see in Minnesota as Common Core standards are adopted? MinnPost outlines the political scene in our state.

Read one Minnesota English teacher’s perspective as she implements Common Core.


The Learning First Alliance provides a Common Core hub, featuring several pages that link to online content related to the standards: “Get it Right” podcasts, LFA member resources and a chronicle of virtual meetings.