Common Core Standards: Building a strong foundation for our children's success.

College & Career Readiness | 09/10/2012

Dana Hepper
Former Policy Director

Dana was Policy Director at Stand for Children until 2013.

Forty-five states have now agreed to adopt a common set of standards for what students should learn in reading and math. For the first time, these states are committing to teach every child what they need to know to be ready for college and the workforce when they graduate high school.


In the past, what it took to graduate high school didn’t match up with what colleges and employers were expecting. In addition to past standards setting the bar too low, they were also too scattered and lacked focus. Not surprisingly, when students were asked to learn far too many topics in a year, they often missed out on the important stuff. As a result, America’s progress in teaching kids to read has stagnated, and SAT scores have even declined over the past 40 years.


These new standards for what kids need to learn, referred to as the Common Core State Standards, are focused on the core skills students need to master to be ready for life and learning after high school. They are also aligned with the skill level students will be expected to demonstrate when they enter college and professional training. Ultimately, this means all students will graduate high school prepared for college.


As a parent, what difference will these new standards make for your child? Here are the key things that will change about how your child learns reading and math.


The single greatest predictor of college success is reading something complex and understanding it – this is at the heart of the new standards for reading. The key changes your child will see at school are:

  1. Students will spend a lot more time learning information from reading. Under the new standards, approximately 50% of student time will be focused on informational reading. 
  2. Discussions and student writing will be expected to use evidence from what they’ve read. This is what colleges and employers expect of high school graduates – to be able to read something complicated, understand it, and use it in their school work or career.
  3. Students will read more complicated text. High school students are typically reading text 4 grade levels below what they’ll be expected to read in college.


You’ve probably heard by now that students around the globe are surpassing US kids in math and reading. Other countries actually ask kids to learn fewer topics in math, and learn them really well. Singapore’s mantra is “teach less, learn more.”

  1. Focus: students will now focus on a limited number of topics, and go deep on them. For example, in K-2, kids will focus on addition, subtraction, and understanding whole numbers. These are the things they need to understand to prepare them for the next step.
  2. Coherence: Because students will be learning math topics deeply, there won’t be a lot of repetition year-after-year. Once 3rd graders master multiplication, their 4th grade teachers can help them learn how to use their multiplication skills to do division.
  3. Rigor: Because students won’t be repeating the same topics year after year, they’ve got to get really good at each year’s topic before moving on.

For more specific information about what your child should be learning at each grade level, check out these easy-to-understand parent guides from the PTA.

 Common Core: Foundation for student success Video

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  • I am tired of hearing our so called leaders put down our children and education system. The United States leads the world in the production of medical technologies. The United States is a world leader in healthcare services and an innovator in cutting-edge diagnostics and treatments. There is no cure for cancer, but when there is, I bet it will be an American claiming that title. Our children are superior problem solvers. The USA educates ALL CHILDREN, not just those who are excelling There is a reason that students from all over the world want to attend our universities, can it be that our schools are superior. Are you aware that now we have adds (Is this really how we want to spend our money?)stating we are 25th in the world in math. I am appalled that we are spending a tremendous amount of money ADVERTISING the urgency and validity of the common core. Might it be that many parents are questioning the content of the tests and their children's reaction. Does it really make sense that our children be tested on content that they have not had the opportunity to master? Why is Commissioner King sharing with us that a 30% decline in scores are expected? AS a parent I would not want a LOW STATE TEST SCORE, as a PERMINATE RECORD associated with my child's name. The tests have not been piloted? l I do urge all to visit the website EngageNY, and visit the link of sample test questions for grade level questions so one may judge for himself the difficulty of the test questions. Why all of a sudden is testing a priority, at the same time we are laying of teachers and increasing class size. I challenge NY state Commissioner King, Governor Cuomo and President Obama to take the new common core 7th grade math exam and share their score results with us. All three advocate for the common core yet, none of their children will take THE COOMON CORE STATE TEST. Liz

    April 14, 2013 12:18 PM

  • I suggest you read the book "The Smartest Kids in the World". Your opinion will change. COLLEGES may be the top in the world, but our AMERICAN children are having a harder time getting into them without having to take remedial classes.
    Jacqui Hawkins

    October 29, 2013 6:49 AM