The Common Core State Standards burst upon the scene in June 2010 and were quickly adopted by the vast majority of states, 43 as of spring 2013. This initial embrace has been followed by a period of reexamination in some states. Although the idea of standards that are consistent across states has become controversial in certain circles, the underlying content knowledge and cognitive skills that comprise the Common Core State Standards themselves have not been seriously questioned or challenged. When ideological arguments about educational governance and who should control curriculum are stripped away, the Common Core State Standards are more likely to be viewed more dispassionately as a synthesis of college and career readiness standards already developed, the expectations contained in the standards of high performing U.S. states and in the educational systems of countries that are equipping their citizens for life in the dynamically changing economic and social systems of the 21st century (Conley, Drummond, de Gonzalez, Rooseboom, & Stout, 2011a; Conley, Drummond, de Gonzalez, Rooseboom, & Stout, 2011b; Council of Chief State School Officers & National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, 2010).
This Social Policy Report considers the Common Core State Standards, where they came from, what they are, and what effect they are likely to have on education. It begins with an overview of the importance of educational standards in U.S. schools, the need for more students who are college and career ready, and the role of the Common Core State Standards in achieving this goal. The process by which the standards were developed is described, followed by a consideration of the facts about the standards and the evidence base used to create and validate them. Next is a high level summary of the standards at the college and career ready level, which indicates the targets toward which the educational system should be pointing from preschool onward. This is followed by a discussion of the implications for teaching and learning generally and for early childhood educators particularly. The brief concludes with tips on how educators can be successful implementing the Common Core, policy implications and recommendations, and sites where readers can go for Common Core-related resources.