Common Core state-led initiative, not federal

Despite the statements in a recent letter, the Common Core State Standards are not a federal initiative, accepted by only a few states. These standards – a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through grade 12 – are the work of a consortium of state education leaders, with states voluntarily agreeing to implement them. Forty-five states have adopted them, including Michigan, which adopted the standards in 2010.

English/Language Arts and Mathematics standards have been developed to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers, parents and communities know what they need to do to help them be successful. Standards for science and social studies are being developed.

These standards do not take teaching decisions away from local leaders, but rather, according to the Michigan Association of School Boards, they set baseline standards for certain subjects. Local boards of education retain control over the curriculum in their districts, as long as it meets basic standards.

Assessment measures will also follow guidelines set forth by the standards. State-to-state student comparisonspopular with legislators and the public – will become even more meaningful when instructional expectations and testing systems are standardized nationwide.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum, implemented in 2006, includes standards very similar to the Common Core State Standards, enabling the implementation of the Common Core in Michigan districts to be more efficient than in some other states, since much of the work is already done.

Revising curriculum, obtaining new teaching resources to replace worn-out and outdated materials, providing professional development activities and training for teachers, and upgrading technology -statewide and locally – are ongoing responsibilities of all school systems.

Implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Michigan helps ensure that our students are prepared for their future.

Gordon Snow