students in the classroom

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are educational standards?

Educational standards are clear goals for student learning. They help teachers ensure that their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the next grade level and in life.

Why are educational standards necessary?

Standards ensure all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in college and the workforce.

Common standards help ensure that students receive a quality education in any school or state they attend.

Common standards provide educators more opportunities to share experiences and best practices that best serve the needs of students.

Will standards tell teachers how to teach?

No. Standards help teachers focus on the knowledge and skills their students should have at the appropriate education level. With these clear targets, teachers create lessons and environments that best address the needs of the students they serve.

Standards also help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success. Standards are a first step –a key building block– in providing young people with high-quality education that prepares them for success in today’s college and work settings.

What will Common Core State Standards mean for our students?

The Common Core State Standards provide more clarity and consistency in what is expected of students. The Standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.

Until now, every state has had its own set of academic standards, meaning public education students at the same grade level in different states have been expected to achieve at different levels. The Common Core State Standards Initiative allows states to share information more effectively and better prepares all students to go to college or enter the workforce, regardless of where they live or how many times they move. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

How are educational standards determined now?

Each state and DoDEA has its own process for developing, adopting, and implementing standards. As a result, what students are expected to learn can vary widely from state to state.

What is the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English language arts/literacy and mathematics. States can voluntarily choose to adopt these Common Core State Standards.

The Standards were designed by a diverse group of teachers, experts, parents, and school administrators, so they reflect both our aspirations for our children and the realities of the classroom. The Standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce. With the Standards, parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of what is expected in school. The Standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that United States students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace.

Why is the Common Core State Standards Initiative important?

  • This initiative ensures every child across the country is given the tools they need to succeed. 
  • The Common Core State Standards provides DoDEA an opportunity to embark on bold pathways that will position our students for success in college and careers. 
  • Consistent standards will allow DoDEA students to stay on track even when their families are moving between their respective states and/or overseas duty locations. Another purpose for our adoption of the Common Core State Standards is to raise the bar on student expectations and better prepare your children to meet the demands of college and/or the workplace in the 21st century global economy.

What do our partners say about the Common Core State Standards?

How do the Common Core State Standards improve the quality of education?

Standards cannot single-handedly improve the quality of our Nation’s education system, but they do give educators shared goals and expectations for their students. 

For example, the Common Core State Standards will enable participating states and DoDEA to work together to:

  • Make expectations for students clear to parents, teachers, and the general public;
  • Encourage the development of textbooks, digital media, and other teaching materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards;
  • Develop and implement comprehensive assessment systems to measure student performance against the Common Core State Standards that will replace the existing testing systems that too often are inconsistent, burdensome and confusing; and
  • Evaluate policy changes needed to help students and educators meet the standards.

What advantages do the Common Core State Standards provide?

The Common Core State Standards have been built from the best and highest state standards in the country.

The Standards:

  • Are evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills and are informed by other top-performing countries.
  • Were developed in consultation with teachers and parents from across the country, so they are also realistic and practical for the classroom.
  • Are designed to ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, are learning what they need to know to graduate from high school and be ready for college or a career.

How will the Common Core State Standards make testing more efficient?

Having one set of standards will make it easier for DoDEA and states to pool information and resources to develop a shared set of high quality tests to better evaluate student progress.

The goal is not to have more tests but to have smarter and better tests that help students, parents, and teachers.

By what criteria were the Common Core State Standards developed?

  • Scholarly research;
  • Skills required of students entering college and workforce training programs;
  • Assessment data identifying college- and career-ready performance;
  • Comparisons to standards from high-performing states and nations;
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress frameworks in reading and writing for English language arts; and
  • Findings from Trends in International Mathematics and Science and other studies concluding that the traditional United States mathematics curriculum must become substantially more coherent and focused in order to improve student achievement.

What grade levels will be included in the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics are for grades K-12. The Standards were created based on research by early childhood and higher education communities.

What does this work mean for students with disabilities and English language learners?

The Common Core State Standards will provide a greater opportunity for states to share experiences and best practices within and across states that can lead to an improved ability to best serve young people with disabilities and English language learners.

Additionally, the K-12 Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics include information on application of the Standards for English language learners and students with disabilities.

What are the Math Standards like?

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics are a breakthrough in focus and coherence. These Standards articulate a progression of learning that deepens a student’s ability to understand and use mathematics. The Mathematics Standards concentrate on core conceptual understandings and procedures starting in the early grades, enabling teachers to take the time needed to teach core concepts and procedures well and to provide students the opportunity to fully master them.

What are the English Language Arts/ Literacy Standards like?

The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy articulate a clear progression of learning from kindergarten to 12th grade. The Standards illustrate a vision for student literacy across subject areas that apply to reading, writing, speaking and listening. This breakthrough resource is designed to help teachers better understand how instructional efforts at each grade level contribute to college and career readiness.

Why are the Common Core State Standards for just English Language Arts and Math?

English language arts and mathematics were the first subjects chosen for the Common Core State Standards because these two subjects are skills upon which students build skill sets in other subject areas. These subjects are also the most frequently assessed for accountability purposes.

Of course, other subject areas are critical to young people's education and their success in college and careers. However, the National Governors Association Center and Council of Chief State School Officers will not be developing standards in other subjects and are now focusing on implementing the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Will these standards incorporate both content and skills?

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 will be evaluated is whether or not they include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order thinking skills.

What is the difference between Standards and Curriculum?

The Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum.

Standards are statements of the knowledge and skills that students need to master in order to be prepared for college and/or the workforce.

A curriculum is the roadmap that teachers use to help young people acquire and master those skills. Depending upon the individual needs and learning styles of their students, teachers develop instructional strategies and techniques to navigate the roadmap.

How will the Common Core State Standards address individual learning styles?

Common standards champion multiple approaches to learning. Students will see consistent exposure to materials and content as they encounter a wide variety of learning experiences through curriculum, instruction and teacher preparation. Teachers have tremendous freedom to teach to the learning styles of individual students.

How will these standards impact teachers?

The Common Core State Standards impact teachers by:
  • Providing goals and benchmarks to ensure students are achieving certain skills and knowledge by the end of each year;
  • Helping colleges and professional development programs better prepare teachers;
  • Providing the opportunity for teachers to be involved in the development of assessments linked to these top-quality standards;
  • Allowing states to develop and provide better assessments that more accurately measure whether or not students have learned what was taught; and
  • Guiding educators toward curricula and teaching strategies that will give students a deep understanding of the subject and the skills they need to apply their knowledge.

Will the Common Core State Standards be updated?

Yes. There will be an ongoing state-led development process that can support continuous improvement of the Standards.

Will common assessments be developed?

The assessment processes will be up to the states. Some states plan to come together voluntarily to develop a common assessment system based on Common Core State Standards. DoDEA is examining options for future assessments now.

A state-led consortium on assessment is grounded in the following principles that:

  • Allow for comparison across students, schools, districts, states and nations;
  • Create economies of scale;
  • Provide information and support more effective teaching and learning; and
  • Prepare students for college and careers.