Background on the Common Core State Standards Initiative
In June 2010, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, released the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics and English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science and technology. These standards were adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity.
Ad Hoc Committee
The AFT believes that, if implemented carefully and with the needed supports and resources, these new standards will help improve education for all students. In 2010, president Randi Weingarten created the AFT Ad Hoc Committee on Standards Rollout to initiate an action plan so that all levels of the union—and our partners at the local, state and national levels—can ensure that the CCSS are implemented as part of a comprehensive standards-based system. This committee, which consisted of AFT state and local presidents, higher education representatives, state education issues coordinators and classroom teachers, met with the writers of the standards, representatives of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and other experts to develop recommendations for the appropriate rollout of the standards. These recommendations, which were adopted as an AFT resolution on May 19, 2011, are divided into six broad categories:
- Standards Design—the AFT’s commitment to ensuring the continued involvement of teachers, as well as commitment to advocate for the early consideration of all students in the development process of standards and other supporting materials;
- Shift in Culture—a call for a shift away from excessive testing and test preparation and a joint effort to develop a high-quality, focused and coherent system;
- Curriculum—options of rich curricula that serve as thoughtful guides to help teachers use their repertoire of skills to ensure students master the required content;
- Professional Development—support, time and resources for appropriate professional development for school, district and state administrators, teachers and other classroom staff;
- Instructional Tools, Time and Resources—appropriate instructional materials and resources, including model lesson plans, original text materials and exemplars of model instructional strategies; innovative use of and equitable access to modern technology for all students; and time for teachers to learn and collaborate; and
- Assessments—high-quality, aligned, appropriate, timely assessments that are not used excessively or punitively.