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Common Core State Standards

Delaware, along with most other states, adopted the Common Core State Standards, which will better prepare students with the skills and knowledge to thrive in the 21st century. The Common Core standards in mathematics and English language arts have been fully implemented in classrooms across Delaware, starting in the 2013–14 school year. Until now, every state has had different learning standards for students. Common Core not only creates consistent learning expectations for each grade across state lines, but also raises the bar for learning in Delaware and across the nation. In an increasingly globalized world, Common Core standards focus on helping to ensure that students have the critical thinking, creativity and grit to be successful beyond high school.

The Common Core provides an opportunity to better support effective teaching and personalize learning, developing students’ deeper understanding of key concepts. The standards build on one another, allowing students to apply the skills and knowledge they learned in the previous grade to real-life situations. To fully leverage the opportunity within these higher expectations, the DelExcels coalition and the larger Delaware education community are dedicated to providing families, educators and community members with information, resources and news about implementation of the Common Core.

We look forward to working together to help ensure that each Delaware student will have a better future. We believe that our education community, especially Delaware’s teachers, can rise to these higher expectations with the right support that DelExcels is committed to provide.

Key Facts and Common Questions

The Common Core State Standards, or “Common Core,” are a set of clear and high academic learning standards for mathematics and English language arts that will better prepare students to be successful beyond high school. The standards set learning expectations for students at every grade level and have been developed and voluntarily adopted by almost all states — unprecedented cooperation in our nation’s history.

Until now, there were different expectations for learning for each grade level across state lines. Common Core not only aligns these expectations, it also raises the bar for learning. This is a major change in the way students are taught, focusing on skills and knowledge students need to thrive in the 21st century to better prepare them for success after high school.

The Common Core provides benchmarks, or standards, for teaching and learning at every grade level. The standards are consistent from state to state, so that when families move, interruptions in students’ learning will be lessened. The Common Core is aligned with the standards used by nations with high-performing students. To raise the quality of education throughout Delaware, these higher expectations will better prepare students for success after high school. Consistent learning standards help families, educators and community members work together to help ensure that students have the opportunities they need to succeed in school and in life. The transition to the Common Core provides an opportunity to better support effective teaching and personalize learning for students.

The Common Core is a state-led initiative. Hundreds of teachers, education researchers, mathematicians and other experts across the country collaborated in developing the Common Core, with state governors and state school chiefs both in leading roles since 2009. Governor Jack Markell co-chaired the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a joint initiative of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Common Core was developed with unprecedented cooperation between states because the need to better prepare our students for the 21st century has become increasingly evident. With the Common Core, educators across the nation are working together and sharing resources to help ensure that our students will be successful after high school.

With the clearer, fewer standards, the Common Core provides teachers with greater opportunity to develop their curriculum, lesson plans and personalized instruction for their students. While educators will be allowed greater creativity and flexibility in their teaching, there will be a significant shift in instructional practice. New approaches and strategies will be required to adapt to the higher expectations and greater focus on deeper content mastery and 21st century skill development.

To support a student who is struggling academically, teachers will need to identify this student’s strengths and areas of growth as soon as possible. This information will help teachers choose and apply research-based supports that will help students be successful in meeting the standards.

Implementing the Common Core also included adopting new assessments. In the 2014–15 school year, every Delaware student took the Smarter Mathematics and Smarter English Language Arts assessments. Delaware worked with other states in the Smarter Balanced consortium to develop these assessments.

Initially, it is expected that student achievement scores will drop from previous years — not because students know less, but because we are expecting more. We expect this drop in scores to be temporary. Research shows that when you raise learning expectations, students will work harder to meet them. The Common Core sets high learning expectations for all students, and it may take some time for students to meet and exceed them. With the higher, more rigorous Common Core standards, the state will administer better exams that more accurately measure students’ college and career readiness and their progress year by year. Test scores may drop when the new exams are first given, but this information will give us a clearer picture of where students are struggling and how we can better support their preparation for college and life in a competitive global economy.

Yes, the Common Core is a set of standards that provides learning expectations for students at each grade level. How those standards are taught is still a local decision made by teachers, school leaders, administrators and school board members. Each school and district has the flexibility and control to set the curriculum that best meets the needs of its students.

Common Core is a set of clear and higher academic standards that communicate shared goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills students should have at every grade level. Standards are different from curriculum or lesson plans. The Common Core sets high expectations for what students should know, but it does not set a lesson plan or tell teachers how to teach. In fact, since Common Core standards are clearer than previous standards and focused on skills and deeper knowledge, not just rote memorization of content, it provides teachers with a greater opportunity to develop their curriculum.

A curriculum is made up of teaching and learning materials that teachers use to help construct their day-to-day lesson plans. With the Common Core, teachers still create their specific lesson plans and will be able to better personalize instruction to meet the needs of every student in their classroom.

Because the Common Core connects learning within and across grades, teachers are able to work more effectively across content areas and grades, using the goals and expectations defined by the Common Core to help students build on their learning from other subjects and from year to year.

No, the Delaware government does not collect personal information about its students because doing so is illegal. Any information tying a student to their educational data cannot be sold or released to anyone without parental consent. Federal law protects the privacy of student information and educational records through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).