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Common Core Basics

The Common Core State Standards are: (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked. They aim to enable students to read, write, speak, listen and use language effectively in a variety of content areas.

What are the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative is a state-led effort intended to provide more clarity about and consistency in what is expected of student learning across the country. Until now, every state has had its own set of academic standards, meaning public school students at the same grade level in different states have been learning at different levels.

Who created the Standards?

The CCSS Initiative has been coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards, developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, were released in June 2010 and as of March 2013, have been adopted by 45 states. 

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Key shifts in English Language Arts/Literacy

Shift 1: Balancing Informational and Literary Text
Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts.

Shift 2: Knowledge in the Disciplines
Students build knowledge about the world (domains/ content areas) through text rather than the teacher or activities.

Shift 3: Staircase of Complexity
Students read the central, grade appropriate text around which instruction is centered. Teachers are patient, create more time and space and support in the curriculum for close reading.

Shift 4: Text-based Answers
Students engage in rich, rigorous evidence-based conversations about text.

Shift 5: Writing from Sources
Writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument.

Shift 6: Academic Vocabulary
Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade-level complex texts. This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.

Read more about the key shifts

More about the Common Core Standards

Teachers and experts reflect on the Common Core