The Common Core FAQ

By JustMommies staff

Although the Common Core State Standards (referred to as "Common Core" or CCSS), a set of K-12 English and Mathematics education standards, has been frequently seen in headlines lately, it's not a new concept nor is it untested in the U.S. education system. Common Core has been adopted by 43 states so far, and the standards are designed to help students prepare for the transition to college and the workforce.

According to the Common Core State Standard Initiative (, Common Core brings a unity between states in what is taught. Traditional education methods vary from state to state, while Common Core helps implement a range of tools and policies that are the same across the U.S.

Common Core has been a very hotly debated subject with many parents, teachers and states supporting it, and just as many shunning it. No matter what side of the debate, however, there are many frequently asked questions that people are asking. Here are some of the top questions:

1) Have the Common Core State Standards been tested for success?

According to the National PTA, the standards were developed from standards nationwide, the best standards internationally, and were further developed from looking at evidence and culling from expertise about educational outcomes. Developers believe that these reasons are sufficient to predict the success of Common Core.

2) Does Common Core compile data on families for a federal database?

The National PTA says that the data collection many parents worry about does not come from the Common Core State Standards itself, but instead may be confused with the National Education Data Model (NEDM). NEDM is an optional data collection framework focused on policy more than collecting individual data. According to the National PTA, the federal government is prohibited from collecting individual student data.

3) What does Common Core mean for how teachers are allowed to teach?

According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the Common Core approach will provide:

  • Consistent goals and benchmarks to ensure students are progressing on a path for success in college, career and life

  • Consistent expectations for students who move into their districts and classrooms from other states

  • The opportunity to collaborate with teachers across the country

  • Development of curricula, materials and assessments linked to high-quality standards

  • Help colleges and professional development programs better prepare teachers

4) What does Common Core teach?

Currently, Common Core standards apply only to Mathematics and English Language Arts.

5) Is Common Core harder than traditional standards?

This is up for debate among people on both sides. Some reviewers have found that certain states already had standards in place that were superior to Common Core, while others were lacking. The hope of developers is that Common Core standards will level the playing field. Some worry that will mean better standards are "dumbed down," while others celebrate the opportunity to bring lower standards up to par.

6) Why hasn't every state adopted Common Core?

Many states adopted Common Core initially because of financial incentives; however, some have since repealed Common Core, moving back to traditional standards set by the state itself. Indiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma are a few examples. Alaska, Texas, Nebraska and Virginia never adopted the standards. The main reason is because many states aren't convinced of its effectiveness and prefer to remain autonomous in implementing education rather than submit to federal oversight and control.