Recently, conversations about the Common Core Standards have raised questions and misperceptions about what these standards are, their appropriateness, and their potential to move students to higher levels of preparation for both college and career. Other issues, like testing and evaluation, have cast sudden doubt about New Jersey’s adoption of the Common Core.
In recent months, NJPSA has partnered with the New Jersey Department of Education and key stakeholder organizations to try to debunk the myths about the Common Core and communicate the very sound reasons why we all stand united in support of the Common Core.
The Common Core Is a Set of Standards, Not Curriculum
The Common Core sets standards of what students should learn in math and English in each grade. Local school districts decide the curriculum that best helps all students meet the standards.
For Many Years, New Jersey Has Adopted Standards That Guide Instruction in All Content Areas, and the Common Core Is No Different.
New Jersey has a 20-year history of standards based education. During that time, we have continually raised the bar for our students by revising the standards to meet the needs of our students in an ever-changing world. This “continuous improvement” approach is a core reason for the strong track record of success of New Jersey schools. The Common Core is not “new” to NJ educators, as they have been utilizing them since 2010.
The Common Core Is a State-Driven Initiative, Not a Federal Mandate
In 2009, 48 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories voluntarily committed to collaborate on the development of the Common Core standards. New Jersey and 40 other states have developed, reviewed, and adopted them.
The Common Core Is a Base, Not a Ceiling
Local districts can and often do set expectations beyond the state standards. This approach is why New Jersey schools are consistently among the top five rated school systems in the U.S.
College and Career Readiness Is Essential for Success in the 21st Century
81% of New Jersey jobs require education beyond high school, yet only 45% of NJ adults hold an associate’s degree or higher. Remedial college courses cost a lot of money and do not count toward a degree, putting some students at a disadvantage. Fortunately, the Common Core focuses on a K-12 system that prepares all students to “hit the ground running” as they seek higher education and career opportunities.
The Common Core Prepares Students to Be Lifelong Learners in a Technological World
The Common Core standards focus on critical thinking and problem solving. English standards include a greater emphasis on nonfiction and the use of text evidence to support complex, real-world thinking. Math standards encourage a deeper understanding of core concepts and the use of skills and knowledge to solve real-world problems. Common Core standards are technology rich and encourage collaboration across subject areas. Critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration are all necessary skills for our students to be successful in college and career.
Need More Help?
There are many resources available to help us better understand the Common Core. Attached here are a few links that may be helpful to you, including brochures, videos, webinars and slideshows from the National PTA that include excellent information about the history of Common Core and its application in today’s classrooms.