Raising academic standards has been part of the education policy discourse for decades. As early as the 1990s, states and school districts attempted to raise student achievement by developing higher standards and measuring student progress according to more rigorous benchmarks. However, the caliber of the standards—and their assessments—varied greatly from state to state. For example, Massachusetts adopted some of the highest standards and most challenging exams in the country and has some of the highest-achieving students in the nation. On the other hand, Mississippi set a low bar, and the state’s students are often ill prepared for college and careers.
Recognizing that the previous patchwork system did not work, a group of bipartisan governors and state superintendents came together to develop a shared set of more rigorous, internationally benchmarked academic standards in English language arts and mathematics called the Common Core State Standards. Some worry that the standards have not been proven to improve student learning, as they were entirely new as of 2010. However, the Common Core is grounded in the latest cognitive science regarding how students learn. For this reason, there is a preponderance of evidence that strongly suggests the Common Core will improve the quality of education for all students.
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