University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

What’s so Common ‘Bout the Common Core Standards?

In The View from the OEP on August 22, 2012 at 11:17 am

For many Arkansas Educators, the week preceding the start of school consists of district-level meetings that include a review of student performance on the statewide tests from the previous academic year, and various guests ushering in some Professional Development. This year, there also may have been some conversation about the recent ESEA Waiver Request (a.k.a. the No Child Left Behind Waiver) that was granted to Arkansas by the U.S. Department of Education. You can read more about what this waiver means for Arkansas in this policy brief we released last week.

Nevertheless, the most popular topic of early-year Professional Development in many schools may have been Arkansas’ transition to the the new Common Core Standards. In 2010, the Arkansas Board of Education voted to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and by 2011, would be one of 45 states (and three territories) that adopted the CCSS (at the time of this writing, only Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have NOT signed on). To help chronicle the process of Arkansas’ transition to the Common Core, the OEP has released a new policy brief outlining the background and history of the transition to the CCSS, the timeline for implementation, and Arkansas’ current position the process of implementation.

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) found that there were many strong similarities when the CCSS were compared to the previous Arkansas Curriculum Framework standards; however, the Common Core State Standards  shifted standards to lower grades in many areas, creating a more rigorous set of overall standards (for example, those standards that previously applied to grade 8 students in Arkansas, may now apply to students in grade 7). Educators across the state are now working to incorporate these new standards in lesson plans. Grades K-2 implemented the standards during the 2011-12 school year. This year (2012-13 academic year), teachers in grades 3-8 will be implementing the standards, followed by grades 9-12 in the 2013-14 academic year.

As many teachers learned the week prior to the start of school, the ADE and school districts are now working to develop teachers under the new standards so that they can effectively teach. For now, there are no conclusive reports on the implementation of the CCSS in grades K-2, or on student achievement under these new standards. However, in the years to come, we look forward to the potential reports on the implementation and the evaluation of the standards.

For more information on Arkansas’ move forward with the Common Core State Standards, please read our policy brief as we hope it will serve as a useful summary of the process, and a future resource for educators who may have questions regarding what’s next for Arkansas.

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