Common Core - Questions and Answers

What Is Is? Where Is It? Pros and Cons

Common Core is a new set of national standards for education that more than 40 states have adopted. We answer some of the who, what, where, when, and how questions about Common Core in the sections below. Hopefully some of this information sheds light on Common Core and helps educators better incorporate into their lesson plans.


What Is Common Core?

According to nprED, "The Common Core State Standards Initiative is the largest-ever attempt in the United States to set unified expectations for what students in kindergarten through 12th grade should know and be able to do in each grade in preparation for college and the workforce. In short, the standards are meant to get every student in America on the same page. Right now, the Common Core standards cover two areas: math and English language arts (writing and reading). They were developed by a group of governors, chief state school officers and education experts from 48 states." [Editor's Note: 43 states have adopted Common Core as of June 10, 2014.]

"The Common Core differs from the current educational standards system in that there is no current system. Each state has its own learning standards, and those get translated through thousands of districts and schools and teachers. The Core is supposed to unify this patchwork of efforts not only across states, but across the country," according to Huffington Post education reporter Joy Resmovits.


According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, "The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the Common Core...

The standards are:
1) Research- and evidence-based
2) Clear, understandable, and consistent
3) Aligned with college and career expectations
4) Based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
5) Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
6) Informed by other top performing countries in order to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society"

The complete Common Core State Standards may be found on the Common Core State Standards Initiative's "Read the Standards" page. The standards for the English Language Arts (ELA) also contain guidelines for "literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects" and teach students "to read, write, speak, listen and use language effectively in a variety of content areas."

Common Core State Standards Initiative, "About the Common Core State Standards," (accessed May 16, 2014)

CGCS, "Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core State Standards,", 2013

nprED, "The Common Core FAQ,", May 27, 2014

Joy Resmovits, "How the Common Core Became Education's Biggest Bogeyman,", Jan. 10, 2014

Which States Have Adopted Common Core?

42 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core. States that adopt Common Core Standards are not required to keep the standards in their original form, adopt all of the standards, or adopt the testing requirements with the standards. For details about each state's Common Core program, visit
states adoption of common core standards

Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Standards in Your State," (accessed Apr. 4, 2017)

Challen Stephens, "Unlike Alabama, These Five States Didn't Adopt the Common Core,"
, Nov. 12, 2013

What Are Some of the Pros and Cons of Common Core?

Paul Takahashi, Las Vegas Sun education reporter, in an Apr. 22, 2014 article, "State Lawmakers Hear Pros, Cons of Common Core Standards," available at, states:

"Proponents argue these more clear, uniform and rigorous standards help students across the country become better critical thinkers and problem-solvers who can compete in the global economy. They say the standards raise expectations of... students, better preparing them for college and career...

Critics, however, believe the Common Core is a veiled attempt at a federal takeover of local education, a power grab for classroom curricula and student information. They view the standards as a 'one-size-fits-all' and 'top-down' approach that has never been tested, will be expensive to implement and take years to determine its impact of student achievement."
PRO Common Core CON Common Core
Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, in a Jan. 17, 2014 letter to the Washington Post, "Dispelling Common Core Misconceptions," available at, stated:

"Common Core prepares students to succeed in the 21-st century economy. It focuses on the building blocks of learning, including reading and math. It provides clarity and consistency that puts participating states on equal footing. And it insists on high standards. Common Core is not a curriculum, a federal program or a federal mandate. It was created at the state level. Curriculum remains with the control of districts, school boards, school leaders, and teachers."
Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina, in a Feb. 15, 2012 letter to South Carolina State Senator Mike Fair, stated:

"South Carolina's education system has at times faced challenges of equity, quality, and leadership -- challenges that cannot be solved by increasing our dependence on federal dollars and the mandates that come with them. Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the Federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states. Confirming my commitment to finding South Carolina solutions to South Carolina challenges, I am pleased to support your efforts to reverse the 2010 decision to adopt common core standards."
The National Education Association, in a May 10, 2013 neatoday article, available at, stated:

"the overwhelming consensus of the educators we heard from is that the Common Core will ultimately be good for students and education. Read on for six reasons why.

1. Common Core Puts Creativity Back in the Classroom...
2. Common Core Gives Students a Deep Dive...
3. Common Core Ratchets up Rigor...
4. Common Core is Collaborative...
5. Common Core Advances Equity...
6. Common Core Gets Kids College Ready"
Arizonans Against Common Core, on their homepage (accessed on May 27, 2014) available at, stated:

"Where in the 'enumerated powers' of the US Constitution does it state that the federal government can dicatate [sic] education standards or assessments to the states? In the US Constitution, it does not state that the federal government has these powers, so the Common Core standards are unconstitutional and the states should have never adopted NCLB [No Child Left Behind], Common Core, nor any other education mandates that have come down from the federal government through the decades! We should 'nullify' their actions and 'restore our states rights' and 'protect our state sovereignty!'"
Ross Wiener, Vice President and Executive Director of the Education and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, in a Mar. 5, 2014 Atlantic article, "The Common Core's Unsung Benefit: It Teaches Kids to Be Good Citizens," available at, stated:

"The Common Core identifies three texts--and only three texts--that every American student must read: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution (Preamble and Bill of Rights), and Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. The foundational documents of American democracy are what bind us together as a people, and the only texts Common Core expects every single American to study; everything else students read in school is determined by local educators.

...Common Core makes an essential claim regarding American education: Preparing young people for government 'of the people, by the people, for the people' means more than a course in basic government and civics, and more than basic skills in reading and math. To enjoy the privileges and shoulder the responsibilities of citizenship, young Americans must master the content and analytic process needed to fully participate in democratic processes."
Erick Erickson, Fox News contributor and editor of, in a May 6, 2014 article, "Why Parents Like Me Are Angry about Common Core," available at, stated:

"With the federal government pouring money into states to get them to adopt Common Core standards, there will be strings attached to develop a national education standard that replaces local values for one size fits all. And once there is centralization, it makes it easier to politicize the standards...

For many, Common Core is an abstraction that crazy people talk about on the Internet. For my child and millions of others, it is a very real problem and frustration. It is a corporate attempt to train up good worker bees at the expense of good citizens. It is a liberal attempt to train up worker bees who think the right things. It is a federal incursion through money."

Is Common Core Ready?

Yes. According to Common Core State Standards Initiative, students who meet the English Language Arts (ELA) standards will "demonstrate independence," "build strong content knowledge," "respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline," "comprehend as well as critique," "value evidence," "use technology and digital media strategically and capably," and "come to understand other perspectives and cultures.", with our commitment to promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan format, is in a unique position to help teachers create lesson plans that incorporate the ELA standards and goals. Our sites present an unbiased, heavily researched examination of both sides of dozens of controversial issues that can be used to help students meet Common Core Standards.

Many teachers have told us that is uniquely designed to be a powerful resource for Common Core instruction because our focus on critical thinking fits well with Common Core's emphasis on argumentative writing, nonfiction analysis, and other skills. California and Washington, both of which adopted content specifically for Common Core instruction, and 14 additional state educational agencies have formally recommended content for instructional use.'s award-winning, searchable, sourced, comprehensive, and FREE content is presented without bias or registration requirements, making Common Core integration with content easy. has Common Core lesson plans, as well as lesson plan ideas tailored to NCTE standards that can be adapted for Common Core use.

---Related Links---

- Teachers' Corner - main page for educator resources

- Free Lesson Planning with - lesson plan ideas, educational standards, and Common Core information

- Teaching Critical Thinking - critical thinking videos and seminar, plus a curated collection of books and studies about the importance of critical thinking

- Critical Thinking Quotes - illustrated quotes about critical thinking from famous minds

- How Educators Use - see how thousands of educators incorporate into their curricula, and take the survey so we can add your insights to the list