Standardizing the Core: A Guide to Navigating the Common Core Standards

October 10th, 2013 | by Stephan Maldonado
Standardizing the Core: A Guide to Navigating the Common Core Standards

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is one of the most hotly debated topics in education today. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA) for Best Practices led the initiative, which seeks to create standards in education by which student progress is measured. The Common Core is a standardized plan that outlines what students should learn in which grades, how they should be assessed, and how teachers should reach these educational benchmarks. The standards are currently implemented in 45 states, the District of Columbia, the American Samoa Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Common Core Standards

According to the CCSSI mission statement, “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. 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. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.” The Common Core applies to two subject areas: Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA), with ELA encompassing a spectrum of arts and sciences including History/Social Studies, Reading, Writing, Science, and Technical Subjects.

While the standards have been in development for a while, widespread implementation is recent, and many educators are finding themselves confused and even angered. Arguments against the common core include the fact that the universalized standards don’t account for students’ individual learning styles, and that there is an increased emphasis on standardized testing. Nonetheless, the Common Core standards are here to stay, and teachers need to be familiar, not only with what they are, but how to teach them. Many users here at TeacherTube have been uploading instructional videos on the Common Core for a long time, and Edutopia has compiled some fantastic Resources for Understanding the Common Core State Standards. There are a wealth of tools available across the web, but the following are three crucial ones with which all educators should be familiar:

The ideal place to start when searching online for a better understanding of the Common Core is its source:, the website for the initiative, published by the NGA and CCSSO. The site is easy to navigate, the most important tab being “The Standards,” where the Common Core is broken into its two categories: Mathematics Standards and ELA Standards. Each section goes into extreme detail about the particular standards for each grade level, specific domains within both subjects (geometry, algebra, reading, writing, etc.), and guiding principles for teaching according to the standards.

There is also a “Resources” tab with links to important publications and documents that expand on relevant topics pertaining to the Common Core. For the sake of transparency and accessibility, the website also delves into the process of how the standards were developed, and there’s an extremely helpful state page that links to each state department’s individual page on their implementation of the Common Core.

Council of Chief State School Officers

Another authoritative place to look for understanding the Common Core is the CCSSO website, which has developed a plethora of supportive materials. Common Core State Standards: Implementation Tools and Resources is a free and extensive PDF that gathers an array of resources spanning every aspect of the Common Core. Some categories of tools in this guide include:

  • About the Standards
  • Reviewing Instructional Materials
  • Implementation Planning
  • Subject-specific resources
  • Connecting Students with Disabilities to the Common Core
  • Defining College and Career Readiness
  • …and more.

While this guide is an excellent compilation of various resources available, CCSSO also offers many of its own, including webinars, an implementation video series, and a listing of other publications. This is definitely an invaluable source for educators looking to learn more.


Since 1943, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has been a leading voice in the worldwide creation and implementation of “innovative programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner.” As a leader in educational leadership and curriculum development, ASCD has formally endorsed the CCSSI, and released a slew of resources to ensure that the common core standards become “part of a well-rounded, whole child approach to education.”

Among the resources available on their site are ASCD’s Common Core State Standards Report, Common Core Standards and the Whole Child, various publications and essays, sate-specific resources, and professional development opportunities. There is even an ASCD Common Core newsletter, Core Connection, and their EduCore tool: an ASCD-developed website featuring dynamic tools, lesson materials, and curriculum resources for implementing the Common Core across all subjects. Educators are highly encouraged to check out the ASCD Common Core Resources page to take advantage of these great materials.

Leave a Reply