Mandan News

Mike Bitz: Top ten questions on the Common Core State Standards

Layout 1 (Page 1)North Dakota is one of 45 states and four territories that have adopted the Common Core State Standards in math and language arts. Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia are the five states who have yet to adopt the CCSS. I have put together a “Top 10 List” of frequently asked questions on the Common Core State Standards.

1. Why do we need educational standards?

We need standards to ensure that all students, no matter where they live are prepared for success in the workforce and postsecondary education. Common Standards will help ensure that students are receiving a high quality education consistently from school to school and from state to state.

Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help teachers understand what students need to know and be able to do at each grade level. With this information teachers can do a better job of designing lessons that will help students be successful.

2. Who developed the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Teachers, school administrators and experts representing 48 states collaborated to develop the standards.

3. Was the federal government involved in the development of the Common Core State Standards?

The federal government was NOT involved in the development of the standards.  The CCSS initiative has been state-led from the start.

4. Are states required to adopt the Common Core State Standards?

While states are required to have standards in math and English-language arts, adopting the CCSS is not required nor is there any financial incentive for states to adopt the CCSS.

5. How do the Common Core State Standards compare to the current North Dakota State Standards?

The CCSS are more rigorous in both math and English-language arts at every grade level than the current North Dakota State Standards. The current North Dakota State Standards were developed by teachers. Teachers started with what students should learn in kindergarten and built upon that learning.

The CCSS began with College and Career Readiness Standards, what students need to be successful in college or work, and worked backwards to kindergarten. The purpose is to close the gap between high school and college and career readiness.

6. How will the Common Core State Standards change what my child is learning in school?

The CCSS will provide more clarity 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 education students at the same grade level in different states have been expected to achieve at different levels.  The CCSS initiative will provide all students with an equal opportunity for an education that will prepare them to go to college or enter the workforce, regardless of where they live.

7. Will the Common Core State Standards keep local teachers from deciding what or how to teach?

The CCSS are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills to help our children succeed. It will be up to local teachers, principals, superintendents and others to decide how those standards are met.  Teachers will continue to develop lesson plans and tailor instruction to meet the individual needs of students in their classrooms. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and school board members will continue to make decisions about what curriculum is used and how their school systems are operated.

8. When will students first be assessed on the Common Core State Standards?

The 2014-15 is the first year students across the United States will be assessed on the CCSS. Until then students in North Dakota will continue to be assessed on the ND State Standards.

9. Why are the Common Core State Standards for just English-language arts and math?

English-language arts and math were the first subject chosen for the CCSS because these two subjects are skills upon which students build skill sets in other subjects. They are also the subjects most frequently assessed for accountability purposes.

Once the English-language arts and math standards are developed, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association plan to develop a common core of standards in science and potentially in other areas.

10. Where can I find more information on the Common Core State Standards?

More information on the CCSS can be found on the CCSS initiative website at or on the North Dakota Department of Public Instructions website at