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Common Core, A New Standard

Submitted By: Zane Lee

Common Core is confusing! Even my middle school daughter said, “yes, it is still too new for students and most parents”. What is Common Core, and why do we need it anyway? Simply put, the Common Core is the largest-ever education reform in the United States to set unified standards for what students from Kindergarten to 12th Grade should know and be able to do in preparation for college and the workforce. The Common Core standards are meant to get every student in America on the same page. Currently, the Common Core standards cover two areas: Math and English Language Arts (including the act of writing and reading). The new standards were developed by a group of governors, chief state school officers, and education experts from 48 states. To this date, approximately 40 states, including the District of Columbia, have formally adopted the new standards. By Spring of 2015, most of these states plan to administer state tests that have been aligned to the new standards. Arguments have been made in favor of creating a common set of standards for what students in all states should know and be able to do:

  • First of all, although No Child Left Behind, mandated that all states give annual tests in grades 3-12 to ensure that all students were proficient, each state chose its own definition of proficiency and its own tests. So, in practice, the numbers couldn’t really be compared from state to state. With the Common Core standards, all states will have similar definitions of proficiency for each grade, allowing for clearer comparisons of how kids are doing from different states and schools.
  • Secondly, those previous, state-specific standards in most cases were not as rigorous as the Common Core. So the adoption of the common core standards, in many states, means a rise in education quality, so that our students will be able to compete more favorably against those in counties with different national standards, such as Finland and China.
  • Thirdly, without a common standard, different private companies created textbooks, materials, and tests to satisfy requirements for 50 different states. A common set of standards enables a single marketplace of materials, which should lead to more competition, and hopefully lower cost of education.
  • Finally, a single set of standards, including sequencing from grade to grade, should make it easier for students to catch up when they switch schools or move to a new state. This is also one of the reasons the U.S. military supports the new standards.


About Timothy Lee

Timothy Lee is a senior at Monta Vista High School. He moved back to the States in 2012 after living in Beijing, China for two years, and currently lives in Cupertino, California. This cross-culture experience has enabled him to encounter a vast variety of environments in which part of his writings are based on. He is also currently an officer in HEARTS, a nonprofit organization, and a VP at Silicon Valley DECA. He also has a passion in web design, computer science, badminton, and writing.

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