The Common Core might be more complex than you think. As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, the Common Core resulted from a well-documented awareness that America’s academic performance was lagging behind the performance of other countries. When we look at our students’ results on international assessments and at their struggle to succeed in the global economy, it’s apparent that we need to raise the bar in K-12 academics. The Common Core State Standards were developed to set rigorous, sequential academic goals that have coherence from grade-to-grade, comparability from state-to-state, and that outline what our students need to be learning in every grade so that they can expect to succeed in college and future careers.

You might have heard all of that before. But did you know that the Common Core is not just about setting academic milestones for each grade-level in math and English Language Arts (ELA)? There are also standards for literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. In addition, there are six instructional shifts (3 for ELA and 3 for Math) that tell teachers how to align classroom instruction with these more rigorous standards, and there are eight standards of mathematical practice that set expectations for the style and activities that K-12 math teachers should provide in every lesson of every grade.

To be clear, none of these features of the Common Core tell teachers how to teach or what materials to use. Instead, the standards simply set expectations for the types of academic goals and pedagogical styles that research has shown will help our students become critical and analytical consumers of information.

Click on these buttons to learn, in greater detail, about the complexities of Common Core:

8 Practices ELA Shifts Math Shifts