In preK–12 education circles, the phrase "Common Core State Standards" seems to have created a flurry of frenzied activity, striking terror in the hearts of teachers and administrators. According to the mission statement for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the standards were designed to be consistent, clear, and relevant to the real world.
The problem, as I see it, stems from our usual historical approach to introducing new paradigms in our schools. It is no wonder that teachers and administrators, who may not want to embrace change, may have a "this too shall pass" attitude, because so many initiatives have come and gone. Typically, teachers and school leaders are not given enough support or resources or examples or time to integrate and incorporate what may represent solid and progressive changes in instructional practices and curriculum delivery.
As a nation, we have recognized that the playing field is not level for every child. Although the No Child Left Behind Act was designed to fix this problem, its punitive nature created additional issues for schools and the students we serve. If we are to revolutionize the way we learn, teach, and lead, policymakers and education leaders need to rethink and reconstruct how we approach changes in curriculum and instruction.
Rather than frenzied implementation, we need to stop and develop well-thought-out processes that will provide examples, exemplars, and supportive research. The Common Core State Standards should be implemented in a manner that recognizes the needs of adult learners, understands the nature of the change process, and provides adequate support and resources that will promote success. A key element to this equation is long-range, planned professional development for both preservice and inservice educators.
I hope that educators will reject approaches that are based on fear and that will only derail progress. And, I hope that each educator in each community will focus on the goal of clearly defining expectations for 21st century learners.
Do you have questions about the Common Core State Standards? Read them for yourself. Get more information at
Also, take advantage of the wealth of ASCD resources designed to help you implement the Common Core State Standards. Learn more at www.ascd.org/commoncore.
Mission Statement for the Common Core State Standards Initiative
"The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy." (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2011)
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