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Background & More on Common Core

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Bridge Conference, Opinions, Policy & Legislation

By Chris Barron, Partnership for Learning

Chris Barron will be presenting on Common Core at the 2013 Bridge Conference next week with Lynne Tucker, SOWA’s Education Policy & Advocacy Director.  Learn more about the conference and register on School’s Out Washington’s webiste.

Why Common Core? It’s a pretty common question with a pretty simple answer: the United States is losing the battle to stay competitive in the global economy.

Common Core State Standards, introduced into Washington state schools this year, raise expectations for all students in math and English language arts. And the expectations are the same across a majority of states, meaning a student in Maine is expected to learn the same knowledge and skills as a student here in Washington State by the end of each grade level. That’s the “common” in Common Core.

Despite what people might hear on certain TV and talk radio shows, the Common Core is not a conspiracy. It was a bipartisan effort of governors and state school chiefs around the nation. Those state leaders saw how students across the U.S. were not being adequately prepared for college, work and life.

Need evidence? Let’s look at results released last week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  The organization tested adults in 24 nations in math, reading and problem-solving – skills that are critical to succeeding in the workplace. The U.S. performed below the international average in those three categories.

If that doesn’t grab you, read the Washington Roundtable’s study of Washington’s growing job skills gap. Our state currently has 25,000 unfilled highly skilled jobs where employers cannot find qualified applicants. That number is projected to double by 2017, when about 70 percent of jobs in our state will require postsecondary education or training.

Common Core won’t solve all these issues, but the standards do raise expectations for what students should know by the end of each grade level. The standards delve deeper into fewer topics so students will understand – and not just memorize – the content.

If you’d like to learn more about Common Core, please visit www.ReadyWA.org. We’ve got materials that help to simply explain Common Core. And, if you don’t want to read about it, watch and listen to 2013 National Teacher of Year Jeff Charbonneau talk about Common Core and raising expectations for all students. He’s someone who’s done it in the classroom for 12 years.

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