Common Core Standards

In case you haven’t yet heard, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA) released in March a draft of Common Core K-12 State Standards in Language Arts and Math on behalf of 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia.  If/when these standards are adopted by the states, they will replace existing standards, though each state has the option of adding to them. 

It’s worth spending some time reviewing the standards document, which is available at  The standards are designed with career and college readiness in mind, and they are intended to be clearer and higher than the ones that currently exist in many states.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was deeply involved in reviewing the standards, and I had the opportunity to read and comment on several drafts before they were made public.  I was amazed at how much they changed over a few months – mostly for the better.

One concern I had expressed about earlier drafts was that narrative writing all but disappeared in the high school standards, becoming only a technique that students would use in their expository and persuasive writing.   Fortunately, a strand of standards for narrative writing is included in the public draft.

Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with the document, considering that it was created on behalf of so many states and that it was intended to be lean.  If Massachusetts adopts it, I hope that it will add some standards on poetry and drama as well as more explicit consideration of low-stakes writing.

Take a look at the standards and see what you think.  I’d love to hear your opinions.

2 thoughts on “Common Core Standards

  1. Karen Mitcham

    Hi Bruce, I must have taught dystopian novels too many times. I teach in Georgia where we have, what I consider to be, pretty good state standards. I am concerned that the narrow portion where the lexile scores are assigned low and high for grade levels will become the movement measure for competency in teaching. I want to be accountable to the 9 – 12 students that I teach. But, will political expediencies and the un-predictability of uninformed administrative leadership penalized honorable teachers on an individual basis, i.e. scapegoating in education.

  2. Bruce

    Hi Karen,
    I wish I could day that your fears are groundless, but of course anything is possible when the pressure is on to show improvement in scores. I’m hoping for the best. I’ve recently become involved in a Gates-funded project through the National Writing Project to generate rich curricula based on the Common Core – before the textbook companies come out with their inevitable least-common-denominator stuff.

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