Questions
1)  What are the Common Core State Standards?
2)  Why are the Common Core State Standards important?
3)  Will local teachers be able to decide what and how to teach with the Common Core State Standards?
4)  What grade levels are included in the Common Core State Standards?
5)  What do the standards mean for students with disabilities and English-language learners?
6)  Why are the Common Core State Standards for just English-language arts and mathematics?
7)  Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?
 
Answers
1)  Q What are the Common Core State Standards?
A
The Common Core State Standards are a set of consistent, high quality academic benchmarks that clearly define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each school year in order to be on track for success in college and career. The standards were created through a state-led initiative and have been adopted by more than 40 states.
2)  Q Why are the Common Core State Standards important?
A
The standards are a common sense first step toward ensuring our children obtain the best possible education no matter where they live. With clear academic expectations for each grade level, teachers, parents, and students can work together toward shared goals. Furthermore, the standards draw from the best existing standards in the country and are benchmarked to top performing nations around the world, ensuring that our students are well prepared to compete not only with their peers here at home, but also with students around the world, maintaining America’s competitive edge.
3)  Q Will local teachers be able to decide what and how to teach with the Common Core State Standards?
A
The standards simply establish a clear set of goals and expectations that will prepare students with the knowledge and skills to help them succeed. It is up to local teachers, principals, superintendents, and others to decide how the standards will be reached. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.
4)  Q What grade levels are included in the Common Core State Standards?
A
The English-language arts and mathematics standards are for grades K-12. Research from the early childhood and higher education communities also informed the development of the standards.
5)  Q What do the standards mean for students with disabilities and English-language learners?
A
The standards create consistent, high expectations for all students and provide a greater opportunity for states to share experiences and best practices that can lead to an improved ability to best serve young people with disabilities and English-language learners. The K-12 English-language arts and mathematics standards include information on application of the standards for English-language learners and students with disabilities. Additionally, alternate assessments are being developed for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities, as are English-language proficiency assessments tied to the Common Core for English-language learners.
6)  Q Why are the Common Core State Standards for just English-language arts and mathematics?
A
English-language arts and mathematics were the subjects chosen for the Common Core because they teach skills upon which students build skill sets in other subject areas. Furthermore, the English-language arts standards address literacy across disciplines, including science, social studies, and technical subjects.
7)  Q Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?
A
Yes, both content and skills are important and have been incorporated in the Common Core State Standards. One of the criteria by which the standards have been evaluated is whether or not they include rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and communications.