Press Release

OAKLAND, CA (August 2, 2010) The Education Trust—West applauds the unanimous vote of the California State Board of Education and the decision to adopt the Common Core Standards.

California has long been a national leader in both standards and assessments.  We, at the Education Trust-West, have long been advocates for increasing the rigor of our standards and graduation requirements with the goal of ensuring that all of our high school graduates have a true choice between college and career.  We have consistently highlighted the opportunity and achievement gaps that prevent so many students of color and students in poverty in our state from achieving the goal of college and career readiness. Over the past eight years, we have relentlessly pressed on our state’s leaders to close those opportunity and achievement gaps and live up to the promise of our rigorous standards.

While we understand that the adoption of the Common Core will not by itself close those opportunity and achievement gaps, we do believe that adoption of the Common Core is an important step in the right direction.

First and foremost, the Common Core Standards were built upon a clear determination of what students need to know by the end of high school in order to be both college and career-ready. With this goal in mind, the Core sets out a path through the grade levels for post-secondary success that is clearly understandable to educators, students and parents. For the students of color and English learners who have historically been underserved by our education system, the Common Core presents a coherent pathway to college and career readiness.

Second, by benchmarking the Common Core to what other leading industrial nations expect of their students and their schools, the Core maintains the rigor of California standards while also raising the bar to better prepare our students for what is now truly a global economy.

Third, by focusing on depth versus breadth at each grade level, the standards allow students to develop a deeper understanding of core concepts in English Language Art and Mathematics. We believe that this approach will strengthen our teachers’ ability to truly differentiate instruction for the diverse array of students in their classrooms. And it will allow students to deepen their learning of the core concepts they will need for the more complex coursework necessary for college eligibility.

Fourth, by linking California to the standards other states, the Core will allow us to finally benchmark ourselves against student performance in those states. This will allow us to determine how our education system stacks up against that of other states; the relative effectiveness of our education programs; and the strength of our interventions and the allocation of our resources. It will allow us to learn from others success and failures and allow them to learn from us.

We live in an increasingly global world. California’s students reflect this global diversity. This diversity is our great strength. Our challenge is building on that strength and ensuring that we are able fulfill the potential of each of our state’s students. The Common Core is not the sole answer to addressing this gap between the potential of our students and the opportunities that we currently afford them. It is the first step and essential step of what we hope will be a thoughtful and coherent plan to build a well aligned and designed education system that provides the trained teachers, assessments, resources and curriculum that students must have to succeed.