Day, Pulling: Common Core a collaborative effort to raise standards

February 5, 2014 

— The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act required that students demonstrate proficiency in reading, math, science and social studies, but because each state had different standards and used different assessments, comparisons among states were essentially meaningless.

A broad-based movement evolved to try to put together this jigsaw puzzle. The National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers worked with highly skilled math and English language educators to create a common core of standards that specify what skills and content students at each grade level should master.

Professional associations such as the National Association of Teachers of English and Mathematics and the International Reading Association contributed to this effort. Input and feedback from teachers, parents and community stakeholders was extensive, and states were free to adopt the standards if they wished.

South Carolina’s Board of Education adopted these Common Core Standards in 2010, after extensive review by the state Department of Education involving educators and other stakeholders. They also were adopted by the Education Oversight Committee, the Legislature’s education research and oversight arm. Most S.C. school districts already have implemented the state standards, and the rest have begun the process.

All of these individuals and groups saw value in adhering to a national set of rigorous standards that would prepare our students to compete nationally and globally.

The standards are politically neutral. They don’t prescribe a curriculum or textbooks; they don’t tell teachers what to teach or how to teach it. That is left up to states and/or local school districts. Adopting states may change up to 15 percent of the content of standards and may create even more rigorous standards if they desire.

We encourage members of the public to read the standards, at corestandards.org. Know that they were developed by governors and state school superintendents from 50 states, not the federal government or President Obama. Understand that they were adopted by the state Board of Education and Education Oversight Committee after careful review by S.C. educators and stakeholders. Engage in conversation with local school districts to learn more about how each district is implementing the standards to provide a more rigorous and demanding curriculum and teaching that will prepare students to complete nationally and globally.

And finally, urge your senator to vote no on S.300 and your representative to vote no on H.3943 — both designed to reverse South Carolina’s adoption of Common Core Standards.

Jo-Anne Day

Co-President

Jane Pulling

Director for Education

League of Women Voters of South Carolina

Columbia

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