Where did the Common Core come from?

Improvement over the Failed No Child Left Behind

Prior to the Common Core, each state had its own process for developing, adopting, and implementing standards. As a result, what students were expected to learn could vary widely from state to state.

The No Child Left Behind education law—passed with wide bipartisan support in 2001—required all states that received federal education funding to develop standards and tests in grades 3-8 and once again in high school. With the set goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014, schools were held accountable for 

improving the percentage of their students that were proficient as they headed towards that goal (known as Adequate Yearly Progress).

Under No Child Left Behind, if a state needed more students to clear a particular proficiency bar, it had two options. It could either do a better job educating students and let the students clear the bar themselves, or it could take the easy way out and simply lower the bar. Unfortunately, many states decided to take the latter option, redefining what it meant to be “proficient” and dumbing down their standards so more students could pass.

In response to this failing, a group of enterprising governors, including Democrats and Republicans, joined together through the National Governors Association to develop a common set of standards that all states could agree to join. They worked with a variety of experts in the field of education to draft and review the standards before opening them up for public comment and finalizing them. As a result, the Common Core was born.

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