Back to School with Common Core State Standards

Friday, August 31, 2012Printer-friendly version

With the new school year just around the corner (or already in session in some states), the majority of educators across the country are hard at work implementing the new K-12 Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The new standards have sparked a range of resources and tools to support CCSS-aligned instruction, as well as drawn a lot of media attention, particularly in the last few weeks.

Understanding the CCSS

The Common Core State Standards are grade-by-grade, college- and career-ready standards in mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy developed for and by states. Since the standards' release in 2010, 46 states and Washington DC have adopted the CCSS and are now in process of implementing them by 2014-15, when 44 of those states and DC will begin administering common assessments aligned to the new standards. As of the 2012-13 school, 25 states have fully implemented the CCSS in at least one grade and content area, although all 46 states have some implementation efforts in place.

While 2014-15 is the end date in mind for full implementation of the Common Core, states' implementation plans vary widely, with states taking on a variety of approaches and timelines. For example, Alabama is implementing the full set of K-12 mathematics standards this year, and ELA will be fully implemented next year. Indiana and West Virginia, on the other hand, implemented the CCSS in Kindergarten in both content areas in 2011-12, added 1st grade in 2012-13; 2nd grade in 2013-14, with full K-12 implementation planned for 2014-15. As of this school year, seven states have fully implemented the CCSS in both content areas (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New York, and North Carolina). 

Beyond the state-developed implementation timeline, many districts and schools are working ahead of schedule to make sure their teachers and students are prepared for the transition. Over the last few weeks, articles have chronicled the efforts districts, schools, and teachers have been making to prepare for the new college- and career-ready standards, such as in Knox County, Tennessee, Watauga County, North Carolina, Santa Barbara, California, and Troup County, Georgia.


Achieving the Common Core is Achieve's resource bank for Common Core implementation, with tools and resources developed by Achieve and other organizations targeted for educators (e.g., quality review rubrics for evaluating the quality of instructional resources, OER Commons CCSS-aligned resources, classroom tasks aligned to the CCSS in math and CTE expectations, Teaching Channel videos, the Illustrative Mathematics Project), for policymakers (e.g., Common Core Implementation Workbook, a Common Core Survey Tool for tracking the quality of implementation efforts, Common Core State Standards Implementation Rubric and Self-Assessment Tool to gauge the strength of state implementation plans and illustrate how to improve them), and for advocates (e.g., relevant survey data, Common Core messaging cards, fact sheets, PTA parent guides, examples from states). These resources and others demonstrate the power of "common" promised by the Common Core State Standards.

Know of good (and free) resources to support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards? Effective advocacy or communications resources related to the Common Core? Let us know about them!

Additional Resources