Common Core State Standards Set Students on the Road to Academic Success

Common Core BlogThe Common Core State Standards represent the single most important step towards raising the achievement bar for America’s students and improving academic performance.  Unfortunately, the standards have come under fire lately by those seeking political gain and suggesting the standards are a federal government take-over of education.  Nothing is further from the truth!  The Common Core State Standards were developed by educators based on proven research and they are widely-supported by both teachers and the general public.

The Denver Post reported last week that 40 percent of Colorado’s students need remediation before achieving college-readiness. Across the country, employers report that students are not graduating high school with the math and reading skills needed to be employable. Remediation courses are expensive, often adding significant time and cost by way of excess courses to the college track, prolonging graduation date. Research shows that nearly 50 percent of all undergraduates and 70 percent of all community college students enroll in at least one remedial course – and for students who begin in remediation, fewer than 10 percent graduate from community colleges within three years and fewer than 40 percent complete a bachelor’s degree within six.  For students who are not college-bound, remedial courses increase the amount of time before a student can enter the workforce and become a productive, tax-paying member of society. And parents, government, and student foot the bill for this added time and expense.

The Common Core State Standards create a set of benchmarks that, when implemented successfully, ensure students are prepared for college and future career. The standards seek to ensure that no matter where a child lives —mountainous Colorado, rural Kansas or urban Washington, D.C.  —  – he/she will be held to rigorous academic standards, end each school year well-prepared to enter the next grade, and graduate high school with a skill set matching the needs of a 21st century economy.  This consistency should be a comfort to every parent, especially in our increasingly mobile society.  How many of us have been forced to relocate – for a job, a military assignment – only to find our child simply isn’t on track to succeed in his or her new school?

States have always set their own standards, and voluntary adoption of Common Core is no exception.  Upon reflection of the successes and failures of No Child Left Behind, it was evident that many states, when forced with assessing “hard to teach” populations to comply with federal accountability measures, simply dumbed down the standards to boost student performance rates.  This phenomenon resulted in a “race to the bottom” and high school graduates ill-prepared for college or for career..  While Common Core standards represent an improvement over most state standards prior to adoption, other states, such as Massachusetts, have implemented the standards while also maintaining rigorous benchmarks above and beyond the minimum set by Common Core.  Additionally, other states, like Virginia, developed and implemented their own college- and career-ready standards.  Virginia’s Standards of Learning, first piloted in 2002, have been judged by the US Department of Education to be closely aligned with college- and career-readiness benchmarks.

Some critics have voiced concerns that adoption of the standards will lead to stifled creativity and autonomy of individual teachers, ultimately dictating lesson plans and all curriculum.  PTA would never encourage monolithic classrooms, and we do not subscribe to this concern; we know that every teacher’s unique experience, instructional style, and curriculum alignment   contribute to a positive and productive learning experience. While the Common Core State Standards define WHAT students will learn, the standards do not dictate HOW students should learn the material, or how teaching professionals should teach it. Each state and district will still write its own curriculum and determine how teachers work with their students and families to achieve the benchmarked learning goals, matriculate successfully, and graduate on-time.

Change is never easy, and as with any transition, this monumental shift to a new set of academically rigorous standards and aligned assessments will be accompanied by hurdles and challenges. Some challenges will be shared, others will be unique as states and districts all tackle implementation while adapting to meet the unique needs of students and families.  PTA has never taken the easy road, we advocate every day for the BEST road; the road that leads every child to success in school and in life.

We understand that any change in education can seem scary. But before you push back, we urge all parents to become familiar with the standards and the new state assessments under development in order to fully understand how the standards will improve education for all students. PTA members should work to educate other parents, regardless of PTA membership, on the benefits of Common Core State Standards and academic benchmarking.  National PTA has developed a robust set of resources for parents, educators, and policy-makers, and I encourage all of you to familiarize with the parent-friendly guides to understanding the standards and state-specific assessment materials.

Teachers, principals, and administrators – the ones in whose care we entrust our children day in and day out – overwhelmingly support the Common Core Standards. Sadly, the progress made toward college- and career-readiness is now being bogged down by politics and a fear of change. It is vital that PTA members speak up and stand up for Common Core by supporting teachers who are working hard to apply the standards in their classrooms. Family engagement is critical to succeeding in this battle, as it is in any fight for the education of our children. Teachers, administrators, and state legislators need to know that PTA will not be divided by political rhetoric, but will stand together, as one voice advocating for the success of every child.

Betsy Landers is the President of National PTA in Alexandria, VA.


  1. Chris Cerrone says:

    The supposed overwhelming support of the Common Core has been debunked here:

    Parents need to move beyond the talking points that politicians, bureaucrats, national teachers unions, and the PTA have used. Yes, there are some folks who oppose the Common Core for political reasons, but most of the opposition comes from parents and teachers who see the educational harm to our children and financial stress to our schools.

  2. Jerry says:

    As a teacher, I assure you that I and many of my colleagues do NOT support the CCSS. Just let us teach!

    • Eric says:

      how is it kids are passing classes and advancing to the next grades when they have no mastery of the material

  3. Marcella says:

    The CCs incorporate rigor and are nothing but a bunch of contradictions. The only way you can implement them is by ramming them down student’s throats.

    Definition of RIGOR

    a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment :severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible :strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity
    b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
    : a tremor caused by a chill
    : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
    : strict precision : exactness
    a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness
    b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
    c : rigor mortis

  4. Jennifer Fatone says:

    Common Core is not “research based,” nor is it widely supported by teachers or the general public. It is motivated by corporations who are foaming at the mouth at the profit-making opportunities that Common Core provides. The PTA is way off on this one and, as a teacher, I am terribly disappointed in your misguided support of this initiative that is detrimental to education.

  5. Andrew Alberti says:

    Of course there needs to be standards. Otherwise there can be no objectives or objective ways to determine our success and failure. The natural order of things is success and no success. The real issue is not teaching, it is learning. Once there is an environment to encourage learning our chances for success in reaching the goal of self actualization for every student increases.

  6. Eric says:

    Teachers are great at content delivery. But there is more to teaching than that. assessment must be made constantly and deficiencies remedied instantly. The one’s who aren’t “getting” it are the ones we need to focus on.

  7. Kim McConnell says:

    I read a lot of information on this website. Unfortunately, however there is no specific information about what the standards are. I continue to read everything I can about CCS, but get nothing more than rhetoric about why it is so great. Could someone please answer some questions for me? 1) What subjects are and are not include in common core? 2) Why is history now considered a “social” science rather than factual history? 3) Are there pre-requisite standards for college credited high school courses? 4) How often will the standards be re-evaluated and who will be responsible for any changes? 5) It seems like we are losing local control of our schools. What about common core standards can assure me that revisions can be made for regional differences?

    • Lee Ann Kendrick says:

      Hi Kim,
      Thank you for your comment. Here are answers to each question you posed:

      Our website includes the actual standards for both Math and ELA we have also developed a variety of tools for parents to include FAQs about the standards and videos that provide concrete examples in classrooms.

      1) What subjects are and are not include in common core? Common Core State Standards are Math and English Language Arts (ELA). You can read the actual standards either or

      2) Why is history now considered a “social” science rather than factual history? Again, the CCSS include math and ELA; not history, so I am unclear as to where your information is coming from. I can assure you that the Common Core State Standards require students to learn actual facts. Refer to the actual standards or

      3) Are there pre-requisite standards for college credited high school courses? Decisions about college credited high school courses are state/district based and are generally developed through partnerships between local school districts and colleges. Ultimately the goal will be that all students will graduate college and career ready but that will take time so during the transition it will be important that parents work with secondary and post-secondary schools to ensure that the secondary schools are providing curriculum that will allow students to meet/exceed the educational standards that will ensure they are ready for college.

      4) How often will the standards be re-evaluated and who will be responsible for any changes? Each state has their own timeline for evaluation and revision of standards; generally that is set by with the state Department of education and/or state legislature. You would need to check with your specific state to determine the timeline. We have included links to each states DOE website so parents can learn more about the individual processes in their state:

      5) It seems like we are losing local control of our schools. What about common core standards can assure me that revisions can be made for regional differences? All states have had standards even before the common core state standards and local schools/districts have had and will continue to have control over how the standards are met at the school, district and region level; These are local decisions that parents should be involved with which is why National PTA continues to educate our members on grassroots advocacy. We believe that parents need to be an integral part of the process. Local decisions include which curriculum is taught in classrooms, which textbooks are purchased, etc. The Common Core State Standards are just that; standards. Please note: Curriculum and Standards are two very different things: Standards are the “what” that we hope children will learn by the end of each year; Curriculum is the “how” that teachers use in the classroom; this includes their lesson plans, supplemental materials, etc. These two terms are not interchangeable.
      The Common Core State Standards allow states to add to the standards to ensure for state/regional differences.

      (Lee Ann Kendrick is the regional advocacy specialist at the National PTA)

  8. Cécile Barnhart says:

    Theoretically, I am for the CCSS. There are some aspects I do not care for, but overall I support more challenging standards (which in turn yields more challenging curricula). In our district, we are not seeing teacher autonomy in the curricula. We are seeing frequent district pre and post testing, district “non-negotiable” assignments that teachers are told they must grade, and inflexible frameworks that all students in all schools much be learning at the same time. Where in the CCSS is this sort of dictatorial educational leadership encouraged? I am trying to determine which of these issues is related to CCSS and which is a leadership problem. Thank you.

  9. Cécile Barnhart says:

    I just talked to an administrator in our parish who informed me that teachers indeed have flexibility and autonomy in their curricula. (They either don’t realize it or aren’t ready for it.). Challenges with assessment are being worked out, and, most importantly, constituents are communicating. I’m hopeful!

  10. Linda Barner says:

    I am seeing my twins dieing in this CCS curriculum. They are in 7th grade and we moved from Washington State where there was little to none of this subjective grading crap to Arkansas where we have ONLY CCS. It is a nightmare at best and here is why:

    Teachers get a vacation from teaching. They simply dispense the material required by CCS in class and in the end mark what the children have done completely and utterly subjectively. There are no rules set for these teachers who mark the kids they like the best up and the kids they like the lease down.

    In my childs advanced socialogy class there are 13 kids left in the class. All the girls are gone except for 2 and the rest are boys. She marked a month long project my kids did in 2 – 3 mintues, did not read a single things they wrote and research for a month, and gave the two girls left in the class 85%, and most of the boys received a 98%. Mind you she did not read a SINGLE darn thing.

    All the teachers are now are robots. Robots who know that they do not need to read papaers anymore. Robots who know that as long as the CCS is done they are not responcible for anything else. There is little or know education being dispensed in our school. The kids are really their own teachers. The teaching is horrible………….compared to Washington state we are in hell.

    Speaking of hell my son and daughter are / were 4.0 students who used to love going to school. It was their life. They could not wait to get there. NOW, they HATE school. They feel that no one else cares about them in the schools and they are Robots just going through a horribly boring program and the teachers show up.

    They are so disturbed by how they are being treated and viewed. CCS has some horribly wrong issues that are not being addressed at all mostly the FACT that this program is completely and utterly SUBJECTIVE. You get in wrong with the teacher, or your a newbee in a school, or you are not well connected, or you don’t go to the same church, etc. you are toast on the grades.

    Think about this for just a few moments and you will see that the standard testing is so important to seperate the smart kids from the GROUP. We are not the borg or a GROUP we are individuals and as such we need to clearly be marked on our progress NOT as a group or depending on the teachers mood that day.

    This is beyond horrible and from what we have experienced in the last few month is a nighmare. Common sense begs the question……why is this being done to our kids? The kids that dont want to learn will not learn while the kids that love school will be lost in the frey of this ultra-progressive, non-sensical mess.

    I pray people see what is happening and pray to God we all open our eyes before we become the WE education and not the INDIVIUAL educated. Socialized education is not always good.

    Please everyone whatever your reasons are for your opinions keep an open mind to what is happening to OUR children and make some noise and read……..

Speak Your Mind