The Common Core State Standards Initiative, as it is now called, is a set of academic standards establishing the minimum basic content that students should be taught and at approximately what grade level they should be taught in English Language Arts and Math for grades K-12.  Science standards are currently being developed as well.  The intent is adoption by all states creating a “common” set of standards for all students “regardless of zip code.”  Preparing graduates for continued education beyond high school that will ultimately be competitive in the global workforce is their goal.

It began in 2007 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded an initiative to develop “American standards” for U.S. schools.  The National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State Schools Officers (CCSSO) and Achieve joined together for the development and implementation of the standards.  It has been billed as a state-driven initiative; however, many have argued that the financial incentives from the federal government through the Race to the Top competition and No Child Left Behind waivers amounts to coercion, at best, and a mandate, at worst, which would effectively federalize education in the U.S.

In addition to the standards, assessment tests are also being developed to measure student and teacher success.  There are two consortia creating assessments for the Common Core standards, Smarter Balanced and Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).  Both of these assessments are computer-based and will require significant improvements and capital investment to provide the necessary technology to administer these tests.  The bulk of the financial burden for this will likely have a great impact on the local school.

Another concern is the data collection efforts that are a part of the initiative.  This is referred to as the P-20 Longitudinal Data System.  “P-20” refers to Pre-school through age 20.  This has also been called a “cradle to career” database.  The claim is that this data would be protected by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); however, this Act was just recently amended by the Obama administration to redefine who is an “authorized representative” and what is an “educational agency” which will affect who has access to this information.  This is a great concern to many, especially in light of recent privacy issues related to our government.

Soooo…..What does this mean for homeschoolers?

The immediate effect will be the revisions to many of the curricula choices available to you.  This will not necessarily affect providers that are specifically targeting the homeschool market, but many publishers will begin, and already have begun, to align due to the revisions to popular standardized tests.

Which leads us to the next way in which homeschoolers will be affected.  Testing.  Of course, not all homeschoolers are required to test; however, those that are required or even simply elect to utilize standardized tests for their own assessment will encounter these revisions.  Examples of this are the alignment of the Iowa Basic Skills Test and Terranova to the Common Core standards.

I will be creating a series of posts going into more detail regarding each of these areas of concern over the next several weeks.  Having attended school board meetings, anti-common core rallies, grassroots informational gatherings, watched online live streams and read countless articles and op-ed pieces on Common Core, there is still much to learn about exactly what Common Core is and what it is not.  I look forward to discovering the truth together.

Below are links to sites with further information on Common Core.

Truth in American Education:
http://truthinamericaneducation.com

The Heritage Foundation:
http://www.heritage.org/initiatives/education

Official Common Core State Standards site:
http://www.corestandards.org

Official Achieve site:
http://www.achieve.org

Official PARCC Assessment site:
http://www.parcconline.org

Stop Common Core in TN:
http://www.tnacc.net/about-cc.html

Stop Common Core in FL
http://www.flstopcccoalition.org