The Common Core State Standards are a voluntary set of basic academic standards that outline the learning goals of students and the proficiency levels they should have attained by the end of each grade. These set of standards are designed to define the national recommendations for students kindergarten-12th grade to ensure children around the country are on the same learning level when they head to college. The Common Core consists of two portions; one for Mathematics and one for English/Language Arts. This national curriculum guideline was developed with the cooperation of the state education chiefs and governors from 48 states and there are many organizations who support the implementation of these learning standards including the Council of State School Officers, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NEA (National Education Association) and the AFT (American Federation of Teachers). President Obama and his administration are also huge proponents of the Common Core Standards. Since the federal government doesn’t have the power to force states to adopt these standards, they have only been implemented in 43 states throughout the country, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and a number of other U.S. islands. The handful of states who have not yet adopted the Common Core Standards include Indiana, Virginia, Nebraska, Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas. Minnesota has chosen to adopt only the ELA (Enligsh Language Arts/Literacy) portion of the standards. National academic tests such as the SAT, ACT and AP exams are now even being written to align with the recommended standards. Although Texas has not yet chosen to adopt the Common Core Standards, there are a couple of things Texans need to know regarding the suggested state standards and the education of their children.
A few years ago the Texas State Legislature actually passed a bill banning the State Board of Education from implementing the Common Core standards throughout the state. Newly elected Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been one of the many vocal critics of the standards, claiming that the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) is a superior system. According to state curriculum experts, the majority of the Common Core Standards actually do overlap with those of the TEKS. One of the biggest problems cited by opponents of the Common Core is one dealing the instructional materials. All schools in the state are required to cover the TEKS, but Texas officials believe that local school districts should have the freedom to design, purchase or even borrow their own additional curriculum and teaching materials. Many argue that Texas students could be left behind if the Common Core is not adopted in the state. Since most of the criticism involves instructional materials, some Texas schools have implemented the Common Core Standards in their own way while still staying in compliance with the TEKS statewide teaching standards. This has been causing a great deal of outrage among some conservative parents and Common Core opponents all over the state. On the other hand, many other residents believe that the Texas education system should adopt the standards so Texan students can be prepared to compete on a national and global level once they’re out of school.